Credit: Christopher Ryan
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An intersection of Holidays…which do I celebrate?

October 11, 2021

Credit: Brooke LarkIntersecting Holidays

So, today was a mixture of holidays and recognition. In Canada, it was Canadian Thanksgiving. In short, a long weekend–nothing seemed to be open. Or having learned my lesson over the last two years–I made sure I went grocery shopping on Sunday. In the US it was Indigenous Peoples Day (**or for some, Columbus Day).

Fall by far is my favorite time of year. Not just because the leaves are turning colors. Not just because it is a bit cooler–even though that means winter is on the way. But, because dinner can be soups and stews. Because comfort foods take the form of cast iron oven cooking–of a meat often, and roasted root veggies. One has to be careful though, because most veggies go from looking good to burnt so very quickly.

And of course it is also Indigenous Peoples day in the United States. President Joe Biden made a declaration about it in the last couple of days that stands out in comparison to previous US Presidents. Then again, Biden is putting some energy into actually addressing the past problems too with Indigenous Peoples, lands, and communities.

There has been a long fierce debate at times–over the history of Columbus “discovering the new world,” and thus honoring his actions. Columbus though, actually landed in the current Caribbean Islands, not North America. Yet, too many people think Columbus not only landed in North America–current day Canada and US, but that the Pilgrims were hot on his heels.

And then comes the famed American mythology of the first thanksgiving with turkeys, venison, squash, and assorted Indigenous foods. Yet, Thanksgiving itself, as an American Holiday began after the Civil War, when Lincoln tried to reunify the country. Columbus Day began as a way to honor Italian American contributions to the United States and evolved as a Federal Holiday in 1937.

Cultural Wars

It has been a fierce cultural war the last twenty to thirty years. Reading Biden’s speech, he attempted to address both communities needs. The biggest one for me as an Indigenous person, scholar, and educator is publicly acknowledging the long inequities, the overt racism, and lack of honoring the treaties forged so very long ago.

This is a day of bamboozlement for me because of the intersection of all three holidays. In reality, I worked part of the day and evening and relaxed a bit with my puppy Bixie. We took a nap and I felt zero guilt. But it is interesting to become a man of two countries now.

American Thanksgiving is still in November. But, it has become less about the American mythology of the first shared meal between Pilgrims and Massasoit. Or the sharing of fall harvest–and more about unadulterated capitalism–meaning Black Friday.

First time home as a college student

Or, if you’re like many college students I have taught over the years now–a chance to be at home–when most of you other classmates will be home too. A chance to visit, catch up (& if old enough, go to the pub). But, it is also time to visit with family. And for too many too often, it is about trying to most of a term’s workload in the ever-shrinking remaining number of days or weeks left before said term ends and finals begin.

For me personally, it has always been a fond day of memories and sometimes sorrow. I lost so many in my family before I turned eighteen. Yet, I can still remember fondly helping grandma cook–but being sure to stay out of her way. With my immediate family, my mom always made it a big deal when we were children and teens. But, as adults, it has been rather hit or miss for my immediate family.

In some years in Oswego, I ate with friends who invited me over. Other years, I ate alone home with the dogs–still making a lot of the fixings or buying what I cannot make–i.e. pies. And the dogs and I feasted, watched football or movies–and like today, relaxed.

Remember, life passes quickly

My point in all of this is to enjoy your time with your family–life passes too quickly sometimes. Make new traditions that you enjoy if not everyone is on the same page for the holidays–especially as anxiety and fears still linger in an ongoing pandemic. And relax–even if it is just a nap with your dog.


Happy Indigenous Peoples Day.




Kevin J. White
Toronto, CA