Thanksgiving Ambivalence

Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about Thanksgiving. I’ve been really focused on gratitude lately, and I think it’s so important that we take any opportunity or any excuse we can to focus on gratitude because it’s life changing. The science is clear and has proven the benefits over and over again.

At the same time, as a highly sensitive person, I can’t help but think deeply and feel deeply about the history around US Thanksgiving. I was sending some text GIFs to family and friends about Thanksgiving, and I was kind of disgusted by the options.

That got me thinking about my childhood and all the images and all the crafts and artwork that we did around Thanksgiving…. you know, in elementary school.

Do you remember tracing your hand and turning it into a turkey? and all the pilgrims made out of construction paper?

Trust me, I don’t want to think about all this stuff and have all these feelings that make me ambivalent about the holiday. It’s a challenge to have a reactive brain like this even though I am grateful for it!

I am going to go out on a limb here as a white US woman and make mistakes in this blog. If I offend you please forgive me and feel free to email or message me.

So here I find myself deeply processing those images and what they mean.

I grew up in Oklahoma which literally means “land of the red people”. Oklahoma was the destination of the Trail of Tears. I’m not an expert on Native American history, but I know that the Trail of Tears was a forced march of indigenous tribes from eastern parts of the United States. More than half of the people who travelled the Trail of Tears died. Those who survived were basically imprisoned in Oklahoma. They were promised that land would be theirs, and later, the government for people of European descent stole it back from them for the umpteenth time and let settlers take it over and farm it.

My own family benefited. They were German immigrants farming in Northwestern Oklahoma. And, I grew up romanticizing Native Americans. I wanted to be an Indian. To this day, I admire so many things about Native American culture and learning from indigenous cultures and stories.

I think it is in part a longing for a life lived closer to the Earth and in a community that honors a more grounded world experience, aligned with nature and all beings on the planet.

If Thanksgiving means anything to me beyond a more active gratitude practice, I think it is about self-reflection, amends, awareness, spirituality, community. Maybe, if we hold our true hearts open, it’s okay to be in a bit of gluttony on Thanksgiving. No judgment, this is just awareness, acceptance, and action in practice. 

What about ACTION? Sometimes taking action can help with healing. If you find yourself sitting in awareness or acceptance, as I have been this week, you might be ready for some action. Start small and remember that small acts of generosity and goodwill heal the giver as well as the receiver. Sometimes even increasing awareness helps move us toward action so here are some resources for you. 

You can start here with this nice newsletter from CIIS. I have taught workshops at CIIS a few times, and I know it is an institution committed to good action, so I like to share their work: Honoring the Land and Celebrating Indigenous Voices

To learn more about how to take action, please check out these great organizations:

Sogorea Te’ Land Trust

California Indian Environmental Alliance

Native Renewables

My heart is open and sending you love and healing. Thank you so much for joining me on this journey and sharing your own experience, strength, and hope in the world. Feel free to share my blogs or reach out with your ideas or questions. I love to hear from HSPs. xo, Alane

Community GRATITUDE Board


Wondering if you are highly sensitive?

Listen to a short talk on it.