16 November 2018

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

GOBBLE, GOBBLE
(When I typed the title I first wrote "meatning" -- what a funny Freudian slip ... although really it's just fat fingers trying to fly. I still need to buy my turkey for next week!)

Yesterday I went to Jane's class's Thanksgiving feast. All four first grade classrooms do that every year. Other grades do other holidays I guess -- Kindergarten was Spooky Science with Dad on Halloween, and we'll find out what the other grades do when we get there. Shawn couldn't come with me because the feast was scheduled during the time he teaches. It was OK on my own though, despite the fact that I feel the twin emotions of inadequate and better than when I'm around the higher class parents who predominantly make up the school we attend.

The program was very cute -- the kids had memorized poems, which they said together, and each had an individual part of a single poem said with two or three others from the class. Jane's part was about a wishbone and the poem was about pulling it, making a wish and the sister gets the bigger half. All of the kids remembered their parts and only a few were nervous (including Jane, who swayed while she recited, something I did EXACTLY when I was Mary in my ~5th grade Christmas play at school ... I remember someone asking me after if I was supposed to sway with the music like that ... nope!). Jane could still be heard and said every word in time!

A few things were problematic, just in the poem selections and the lack of curriculum that discusses the actual horrors of Thanksgiving -- the arrival of pilgrims and what it meant to the Native American populations. There were some cutesy lines about friendship and love between Indians and Pilgrims, and I understand that the full thrust of American history doesn't need to be on display at a first grade recital, but neither should it be sanitized in such a way that we forget (or in many cases have to wait and learn when we're much older, if we learn at all).

This Decolonizing Thanksgiving toolkit has popped up in several places online for me. I have briefly perused it but need to dive deeper, to learn for myself so I can talk about it more clearly and age appropriately with Jane, and possibly steel myself to make suggestions to the school (apparently schools because I saw some pictures from Livia's school's 3-year-old program and there were kids dressed as Indian caricatures and NO NO NO).

There were also a few poems that were subtly sexist -- making fun of "bumbling dad" for not carving the turkey well and being preoccupied with football on Thanksgiving. #NotAllDads? It was minor, but for whatever it's worth (not much), my brain is in tune to spot things like that. If not able to articulate WHY I can at least notice them and realize I'm uncomfortable with it for SOME reason. It was a weird deal.

The feast itself was Chik-Fil-A chicken nuggets, fruit and mini bundt cakes (i.e. the most expensive cupcakes possible, which they asked for by name). I brought half the needed mini waters. My kid is one of the few who does not like chicken nuggets, so it was a struggle. She hasn't been eating breakfast lately (says her stomach hurts so it probably does -- maybe from the ear ache), so I negotiated her to eat one nugget. She had a cookie and one of the bundt cakes, and although multiple kids were having multiple treats the girls across from us pointed out Jane eating two, as if I was supposed to stop her or say something. I have some thoughts/feelings about that too, but no time to unpack them now!

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