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A Thanksgiving to Remember
Article ID: 10289
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,936
Times Read: 6,556
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Author: Lady Abigail [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: November 20th. 2005
Times Viewed: 6,556
Thanksgiving, has always been a confusing holiday for me. Is it a day to give thanks or a day to morn the near alienation of our sisters and brothers of Native American heritage?
In school we were taught how the pilgrims discovered America. This might surprise some but the Pilgrims didn’t discover it. This land, now called America, was being lived on by many various native peoples, of many different nations. This was their land; land they were giving in trust to care for by the Great Mother and Great Father. So, though it may not be the popular version, America, was only discovered by those that didn’t know it was here.
We were also told of how the good pilgrims after much hardship began to thrive. In the spirit of fellowship they invited the Native Indians, those they looked down upon and called savages, to a grand feast of thanksgiving. They had over come so much and had learned to live and survive in this new would and new land. Again, we seem to forget that if it is was not for those savages teaching the pilgrims how to live and stay alive they would have starved, and most probably died, long before their celebration of Thanksgiving.
As a child my family celebrated Thanksgiving in the usual way, with turkey, dressing and all the trimmings. It seemed to me to be a time of a family invasion. It was the kind of holiday where everyone would eat till they popped, and then sit around watching football and eating pies and cakes while they all complained about being stuffed.
I didn’t look forward to this holiday like the others. It didn’t have that extraordinary feeling of expectation, the excitement that comes when you are waiting for the Sabbaths; Samhain, Beltane, Ostara or Yule. There was no tingle of energy, no special sensation that would come over me waiting for the long nights, when the moon danced across the sky and told her secrets in the night. No, this holiday I didn’t look forward to at all. This one was spent with my family, the people that looked down their noses at us; the same people that would call on my Great Grandmother for readings, teas or potions.
This thanksgiving seemed to begin the same as other days. My Great Grandmother was busy around the house, earlier then usual. As I awaken I could here her in the kitchen; pots and pans clinking together as she called me to breakfast. Then, as I was getting dressed I noticed something unlike other mornings. It was the quite. I could hear the kitchen sounds and the cows calling for milking. But the one sound that was missing was my Great Grandmothers song. There was no melody filling the house as I got ready. That was unlike other mornings.
The family members who were coming for Thanksgiving would begin showing up early in the morning; Aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, grandparents and those I didn’t know what to call, all looking as if they had something more than the other one and it was their special secret. A secret, by the way, they couldn’t wait to tell, as long as you didn’t tell so and so.
I would play for a while with some of the children who came, but even then I didn’t quite fit in. Maybe it was because I preferred playing outside, climbing trees or trying to catch a big frog from the creek to being inside or watching TV. I was a full fledged, toad carrying, mud pie making, shadow dancing tomboy. I would go to play outside, weather allowing, as soon as the house began to fill. There were just to many people, all talking at the same time and nobody listening.
The men folk would sit around and talk sports, hunting and politics; while the ladies would all be fussing around in the kitchen cooking dinner; fussing and gossiping mostly. They could tear apart another person faster then dogs on a t-bone steak. I didn’t get too far out of ear-shot, just incase anything interesting was being said.
After a while the bright sunshine and warm autumn day became too glorious to ignore. I decided to rake some leaves into a big pile so I could jump into them from the tree branches. As I situated myself on the branch, I noticed my Great Grandmother standing by the garden behind the house. She had come out to pick some winter squash and onions for dinner.
As I looked toward her, she seemed somehow different; there was something I had never seen before. For just a moment she seemed to drift away, into quiet loneliness. I watched her closely as I climbed down from the tree. It seemed as if there was a shadow of transparent light shining from behind her. The pale luminous glow caused her to be silhouetted against the green of the woods beyond the garden fence.
As I walked toward her and asked what was the matter she turned and smiled. I nearly began to cry when I saw a tear run down her cheek. She quickly brushed it away and said, “Just looking into the eyes of my Great Grandfather.” Then she said, “sometimes I just need to say; ‘thank you, ’ for all my blessings.” I had never seen my Great Grandmother like that before. Although it was just for a moment, it was a memory I would hold in my heart always.
I didn’t know if my Great Grandmother knew her Great Grandfather during her lifetime or not. I knew her parents had been gone for many years. I remembered her telling me the stories of how our family, a part of the Quapaw nation had been forced to move to the northeastern Indian Territory. She would tell me how over time and the change of lands many lost their homes, some even their heritage. It would be many years before I would begin to understand a tiny part of what my Great Grandmother was telling me, or perhaps what she felt that day as she looked into the eyes her Great Grandfather.
The rest of that Thanksgiving holiday was generally the same as every year. There was the dinner, the football games, and lots of empty endless chatter. Then like a large herd of water buffalo that had finished filling up at the watering hole, everyone started to leave. I was always glad when they were gone and the house would become peaceful again.
Once all the family had gone, my Great Grandmother explained, that now we could give honor and thanks, but it would be in a different way. We gathered some of the dried corn from the field and placed it in an old woven basket along with some fresh berries and apples we picked fresh off the tree. She took a jar with fresh cream from the ice box, and placed it in the basket with some honey comb. Then she pulled out a wooden box she kept hidden in the cedar chest under the quilts and placed all these things in front of the fire.
I sat down beside her as she began to stoke the fire. I was excited to see what treasures might be hidden inside this box. One by one she pulled out memories carried in the small objects it contained. Each object holding a story of lives and times long passed. Such treasures I could never have dreamed were held within that tiny wooden box so aged by time.
As evening began to fall we took the basket filled with corn, apples, berries, cream, honey comb and bread into the field where a large table rock stood. I had played here many times before. I had a fondness for standing on this rock to look down into the valley below. It was like stepping into the past where the world would never change.
We placed the basket of food upon the rock and my Great Grandmother took me by the hand and told me this was a time, a tradition I should mark, along with the other holidays celebrated; a time I should always remember to give thanks.
I stood looking into those dark eyes as she explained that our traditions are a blending of many. We are a part of those who came onto this land and those who stood here since time was time. We are all like the seasons, a blending of colors, shapes and designs, picked by nature. Like the stone, we must be set in our truths, but we must first know them before they can be our truths.
I can still hear her gentle voice as she told me, “Remember, we are of the air and by it we are carried to lands, and places not yet stood on by man; like the fire we burn both hot and cold and must seek to balance our lives. Like water we are gentle as rain, but have the power to move mountains. Like the earth, we may give much more than we are given, but in this we will receive all there is to give. Though time has not always been kind, it learns and we teach it. People confuse property with control, color with choice and weakness with power. We are from a time older than time. We are the ones whom see the rainbows and all the colors therein. We are the knowledge of magick, those called Witch. For in all of this, we are the ones honored by the Goddess and God; and for this we give thanks.”
Then I helped my Great Grandmother dig a small hole, were we placed some of the corn, fruits, honey comb and bread. Some of the words she spoke I didn’t completely understand but I could feel their power all the same. I helped my Great Grandmother carefully pour the cream into the hole and then we covered it giving honor to the three sisters; Moon-Maiden, Earth-Mother, and Crone-Grandmother.
I will never forget that evening when my Great Grandmother shared with me the honor of thankfulness, the pride of the past, and the truth found in all the gifts we have within this life.
As we walked back to the house the sun was glowing a brilliant orange-red as it began sinking lower and lower under the edge of the mountain. Its shadows grew long across the brown and gold leaves coloring our yard.
We sat down upon the creaking porch swing and I snuggled up close to my Great Grandmother. She pulled a blanket about us as she put her arms around me. The cool air had just began to bring in the sweet perfumes of the night. She held me not only in her arms but with a love that touches me still.
As we sat there in the silence as the stars began to twinkle in the lavender sky, a tender love filled melody began as my Great Grandmother softly hummed her song; a song which had the power to calm the very fibers of life. For that moment, I would be forever and truly thankful.
May we all find and know the gifts in our lives and be thankful.
Blessing to you all,
High Priestess Ravensgrove Coven
Copyright © 23112005
Copyright: Copyright © 23112005
High Priestess Ravensgrove Coven
Location: Greenfield, Indiana
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