This post is about American Thanksgiving. There are people in parts of the world that I’ve traveled to who wouldn’t begin to understand this discussion. There are plenty of Americans I know who wouldn’t understand why those people would find it incomprehensible.
This is more personal than my posts tend to be. There are chunks of my past that I do not share because they serve only to illustrate how remarkably unlike the rest of you I am. I’ve come across one blogger in all these years who could somewhat relate to my early childhood– and she wouldn’t communicate with me due to my gender. (That’s how it is among her people, the two genders rarely exchange words. That says something about the blogging community on the whole, doesn’t it? “Tell me, tell me, before I forget, why are there always more Barbies than Kens?” ~Tremendous by Girlfriend)
For Thanksgiving, I went to visit with relatives I haven’t seen in a long time. That sounds normal. Many Americans do that. I did not go because it was Thanksgiving. I went because I had been watching certain patterns and could estimate where they would be at the end of November. These people, my blood, live off the grid.
My great-grandfather was the first in my family to become an American citizen. The ones for ten thousand years (by estimation) lived on the same land. None of them crossed an ocean. They didn’t cross the imaginary lines between the US and Canada (well, probably not, my people aren’t as good with knowing where pretend stuff is). My great-grandfather went to extreme lengths to get citizenship. Our people would call it too far, American people would call it duty and honor. Gray area. But I also have family members who do not call themselves American. They take no money and use no resources from the government. They don’t exist as far as any form is concerned.
It’s funny, because all of those relatives consider my current lifestyle (what most readers of this blog consider almost normal) to be brave going on crazy. To them, I’m the rebel who ventured to the terribly dangerous part of the world. They’re shocked every time I make it back to visit and am still alive. My great-grandfather was able to save a tiny piece of our ancient heritage by becoming a citizen and being able to “own land.” They were amazed that he lived, that he returned from being sent to Europe. (Historically, our people that were sent there did not come back. That’s the difference between slaves and citizens. And yes, slaves were an American export, not just an import.)
Someone said I was brave to go out there. No, my dears, brave is coming back. I return to a world where I do not fit in. Not that I properly fit there anymore, either. Did you ever see those puzzles where there are two sets to solve and both images are cut the same and they share a box? If you solved one of those, then took a single piece out and burned the rest, that would be me. The lone piece. Technically I’d fit into the other puzzle image, since they are cut the same, but I’d never belong.
This is the life I chose. And I am thankful for the many opportunities it affords me. I’m glad I am able to experience the vast cultural differences this world has to offer. I am grateful to have been raised first by people who demonstrated every day what equality means. I was a teen before I discovered how exceedingly rare that is, before I met people who treated me as less. I can imagine the struggle of my ancestors explaining our ways to Thomas Jefferson, as I’ve tried to explain to a few people. (Trust me, explaining colors to someone born blind is a similar task, maybe even an easier one.)
I didn’t spend this year gathered around a table. There was no pie. The people I was with didn’t even know it was a holiday, and certainly would not have celebrated it. But it was a treasured time and I am thankful that I was able to make the trek out into the wild. Out to my childhood.
I hope all of you had a good holiday as well.