I used to hate Thanksgiving.
For the life of me, I couldn't understand why we would celebrate a fairy tale, while ignoring how the indigenous people of this land suffered at our hands. When it was my turn to say grace at the table, I always said a prayer remembering the people we displaced, segregated, dehumanized in the name of our own "freedom." Needless to say, I was the downer at the table.
Many, many years later, I am still not crazy about this holiday. I would rather we have an Indigenous People's Day or a Harvest Celebration and just be rid of these holidays that discount the experience of those who were here first. But, I have been able to find personal meaning in this day as I become more aware of the politics of food, and the importance of supporting local farmers. I am thankful for my local CSA and the bounty of food that we have been blessed with this past season, despite many challenges. I can celebrate the harvests of the farmers on Long Island who provided my family with fresh, organic produce over the past six months.
And there's the other part of this equation - my family. I can finally feel real thanks and appreciation for family. Growing up, my family life was challenging. So while I did love my family, we weren't close. Today, though, I have that feeling of true gratitude and unconditional love. I owe that to Diego - my sweet baby - and all of the challenges that have come along with him.
Diego has Sensory Processing Disorder, which in general makes me alternately crazy and sad. But SPD has actually given me a gift. To help Diego, I have had to slow down in a way that would not have happened with a neurotypical child. It was forced upon me. I had to slow down so he could be ok. When you can do this, and really meet your child at their level - special needs or not - it is an amazing gift, an opportunity to understand love - to truly give love to another person. However I have had to get to this place, to this bond with my child, I can honestly say that I am grateful. And that is what I will celebrate on Thanksgiving.