From Niagara At Larger reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted November 23nd, 2017 on Niagara At Large
It is the Thursday of the last full week of November and that only means one thing for our friends and neighbours in Buffalo and Western New York and for millions of others across the United States of America.
It is Thanksgiving, and for anyone on the American side of the border who visits our Niagara At Large site and for what few of you may check in to it today – because most Americans put aside any and all work on this day and, yes, even their computers and other digital devices to spend some quality time with their friends and family – I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.
Along with my wife Mary and daughter Sarah, we share this day with fond memories of Thanksgivings we spent for many years with friends who gathered at Old Sea Pines, a wonderful Inn in the Town of Brewster on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Through all those years of gathering there with dozens of people who had travelled from towns and cities in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and elsewhere to get together, those few of us who were affectionately called the “Canadian friends” in the group came to appreciate what a special day this is in the year for Americans.
We were told by some of them that they enjoyed it more than Christmas because there was not the stress of gift buying and all the rest, and it was just people gathering together, away from the everyday trials and tribulations of life, for a human touch of company.
Those Thanksgiving gatherings on Cape Cod would never last forever, of course, as members of the group moved to places far away, or grew older or, sadly, passed away, but the great memories are there and I remain forever impressed with how much people and communities come together on American Thanksgiving in a spirit of warmth and peace and generosity we could only wish would last for the rest of the year.
But American Thanksgiving is not a time of celebration for everyone. While we were celebrating our gathering each year on Cape Cod, not too many miles up the Atlantic Coast in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Indigenous peoples gathered, just as I am sure they are this year, for what they called a ‘National Day of Mourning’.
For them, that nice mythical story about the first Pilgrims and Native Americans gathering together for that first Thanksgiving feast in 1620 morphed in to the destruction of their communities, the theft of their lands and genocide, not to mention the many injustices their people have continued to endure to this day.
On a trip back to Cape Cod last year where we still go to visit our friends at the Inn for a week or two in the spring and summer, we stopped at Plymouth where I first came with my family when I was a little kid to see what is left of the fabled “Plymouth Rock” and an exact replica of the Mayflower that the first Pilgrims journeyed from England on.
There in Plymouth, on top of a high bluff overlooking the harbour and the fabled rock and a pier where Mayflower II is docked, is a plaque erected by the Town of Plymouth and the United American Indians of New England, honouring these national days of mourning and what they mean.
The summary of the suffering native Americans endured and continue to endure at the hands of those who came and colonized the continent they lived on for thousands of years is nothing at all to celebrate and I found myself quietly applauding members of the Plymouth council for joining in erecting this plaque in high-profile location in a town forever linked to the first Thanksgiving.
Barring any breaking news that needs immediate attention, Niagara At Large will leave it like that on this American Thanksgiving Day and start posting again this Friday, November 24th.
In the meantime, if you are a Canadian like I am who has friends and relatives on the American side of the border, give them a call and say hello or keep them in your thoughts, and remember that many of them are just as as anxious as the rest of the world to see the back of Trump.
As one of my friends from upstate New York told me earlier this week; “Hopefully, that will be soon.”
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