(Todd A. Smith)
I know it.
Hoteps will say Black folks ain’t supposed to celebrate Thanksgiving because of what the White man did to our Native American brothers and sisters back in the day.
Well, those hoteps can kiss my entire a$$ to quote the great Della Reese in “Harlem Nights” because Thanksgiving 2023 hits a little bit different for me because I still have both of my parents despite serious health scares throughout the year.
Every year, it seems that people compete over social media to prove how conscious they are.
Notice that I did not use the term “woke” because the radical right has taken a term meant to describe people who fight racial injustice and have turned it into a bad thing as if equality is something to be avoided.
But when certain holidays come up, people love to remind people again and again why they do not celebrate certain holidays and occasions.
People do not celebrate Thanksgiving because of what the White man did to the Native Americans.
For the same reason, people do not celebrate Columbus Day.
People do not celebrate Christmas because they think Christianity was just a religion forced upon our ancestors as if someone can force a person into salvation (accepting Christ as Lord and Savior).
People do not celebrate the Fourth of July because our ancestors did not have their freedom on July 4, 1776.
People do not celebrate Juneteenth because Black folks already had Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
I have actually heard people say that.
And people say they do not support Kwanzaa because it is a man-made holiday as if all holidays were not made up.
But while people have the right to celebrate whatever they choose to, they should also realize that there might be a reason why those holidays might mean a lot to others, regardless of the holiday’s checkered past in the history books.
Yes, the White man did screw over the Native Americans.
But that does not take away from those few special moments one gets to spend with their loved-ones on holidays like Thanksgiving.
Although my parents are still with us, many of my loved-ones are no longer with us in the flesh.
And holidays like Thanksgiving and Fourth of July were some of the only holidays in which most of my extended family was gathered in one place.
I can still remember spending Thanksgiving at my grandmothers’ homes, either in Kentwood, La. or Abbeville, La., then going on to New Orleans the next day for Bayou Classic weekend, where our Southern University Jaguars once held an eight-year win streak against those country “bamas” from Grambling State University.
I can remember fighting over the wishbone at my grandmother’s home in Abbeville, La., only to lose to my cousin Brian, who is no longer with us.
I remember my grandmother, Uncle Sonny, Aunt Pooh and cousin Denise standing on the front porch waving us goodbye as we drove away on our way to New Orleans for the big rivalry football game.
Although my mother’s sister Alfreda would ride from Houston to Abbeville, La. with us, she would not tag along for the game even though she attended Southern too.
Those remaining in Abbeville would just watch the game on NBC, marveling at the bands and even enjoying the few years my cousin James Vernon (from my father’s side of the family) starred for Southern.
I can still hear Alfreda asking what number Mae Helen’s boy is so they could watch out for him during the game.
Did I tell you that James won Bayou Classic MVP in 2005?
I can remember while attending Southern, I would spend Thanksgiving with my paternal grandmother in Kentwood, La. before heading off to New Orleans to meet up with my classmates on Bourbon Street and Canal Street.
I have over 20 first cousins on my father’s side of the family, and many would be there all under one roof to enjoy time with Momo, our aunts, uncles and second and third cousins.
Some of those people are gone now too like Momo, my first cousin Leon Smith, Jr. and my second, cousin “Cotton.”
Therefore, Thanksgiving reminds me of those times that are so dear to my heart as I get older, and my parents get older too.
It makes me realize that time with our loved-ones will soon become a memory as the circle of life replaces them with new relatives.
Therefore, if a person asks why I am celebrating a colonizer’s holiday and an oppressor’s holiday, I will tell them that enjoying time with loved-ones while they are still here is worth more than me proving to the White man how conscious I am.
In fact, the White people that I might be mad at are either long dead or do not care a thing about me.
So instead, I focus on the people that do care about me.
And I am super thankful to still have some of them still with me.
And although it becomes cliché, tomorrow is not promised to anyone.
So, instead of focusing on the origins of Thanksgiving every year like a broken record, focus on why modern Americans celebrate the holiday.
Enjoy your loved-ones while they are still here.
Enjoy some good football.
Hopefully, enjoy some good weather.
And start treating everyday above ground as a reason to thank God for another day because it truly is a blessing!