I grew up in rural Massachusetts. Really rural. This was the Massachusetts of calendar pages. Still close enough to Boston that trips to the city were not uncommon, the landscape of my every day was all rolling fields, brilliant maples, white spired churches and old stone walls.  It was the sort of town where no one thought it odd if I rode my horse to the country store to get a grinder – that’s a sub for those of you not from there.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Growing up where and when I did, it is not surprising that alongside the cider fest, I was taught the myth of Thanksgiving. I mean, we all were, right? But it came with an extra dose there. I understand why; it is such a lovely myth.

The idea of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag coming together for a celebratory feast, a cementing of friendships, a tribute to peace and harmony … yes, please, I’ll have a second helping of that story.

The problem is, of course, that it’s not true. And, unlike some holiday stories we tell ourselves, this one is dangerous and damaging.

The true account of European colonization is one filled with violence, betrayal, outrageous entitlement, racism and genocide. We know this. The historical record is not vague. I am embarrassed to say how long after I was aware of the greater reality I continued to hold on to the Thanksgiving myth. As if despite the overwhelming evidence of what actually occurred, somehow, this one day, this one feast could still emerge shining, ideal, unscathed as a moment of what was possible.

It was hard to let go.

However, the truth, no matter how unpleasant or unwished, is the truth. Wishing it away or willing it to be different doesn’t make it so. Our task in this moment is to see things as they actually were in order to better understand how things actually are. And then to be a part of making things better.

The work is hard, the work is real, and the work is there for us every day of the year – but this week it is “extra present” as we sort out how to “do” this holiday. Many native families view this day as a day of mourning. I understand and respect that. It does not, however, feel true to me.

It turns out that even (or especially) without the myth, there’s a lot I like about the day. I like getting together with my family, I like mindfully taking stock of the blessings in my life for which I am thankful, and I like pie. These are the things I will keep.

To these core ideas I am adding a renewal of the promise to listen, really listen, to hard truths that challenge my assumptions; to pay attention to the needs of communities other than my own; to take stock daily of those things in my life I treasure, and to recognize how many of those are the result of privileges I take for granted.

This Thursday, and every day, I hope that you find yourself surrounded by love and friendship, that you are granted a moment to take stock of all the blessings in your own life, and that you have pie.

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