creating new traditions

The true story behind the holiday most people call “Thanksgiving” involves a very rare moment of peace between (eventually to be called white) Europeans and Indigenous people. In our family over the last few years, it has felt really strange to celebrate what was an exception to the rule of the day; the rule of the day was my ancestors betraying and murdering Native people.

Last year, we celebrated Thanksgiving, but talked a lot about how complicated it was. Our 11 year old announced a few months ago that she was going to boycott Thanksgiving because of the harms white Europeans perpetrated against Indigenous people. Our family had some conversations about it and we have decided that we will no longer celebrate Thanksgiving.

We will, however, create our own new celebration. We are not simply re-naming the day. We will celebrate, and we will probably enjoy foods that we have shared over our lifetimes around this time of year. Our days of celebration will also include moments of solemnity and honor for all of the lives lost, the cultures crushed, and the overtaking of the land by greedy capitalists. We will live in the truth as best we can.

White supremacy culture is all we’ve known in our family, so far. What that means is we don’t have a “culture” that doesn’t relate to oppression of others. But, we white people can tease out of our family traditions, shared experiences, and other aspects of community those elements that may form a new culture or new cultures.

For us, we are trying out “Anticipating the Solstice” as our celebration. It will last two days (the last Wednesday and Thursday of November), so the kiddos can celebrate in both of their homes. The foods may vary from year to year, but there are sure to be many of the old standards we’ve grown up with. How we honor the true story of the first “Thanksgiving” will surely develop over time, too. We will start by using this as a reference. I know we will involved candles somehow, and silence. The rest we will work out as a family.

This is not going to be a “cheat.” This is not a way to celebrate Thanksgiving and still feeling good about it. We will not celebrate Thanksgiving as we have done before. We will join with our wider community in mourning the horrors our country was built on. And, on the same days, we will celebrate the bounty of our lives in joyful gratitude. Add to all of this the complexity that we know we are very lucky in our bounty, that too many people will be going without shelter, food, or family. We will recognize that, too.

As I was writing the last sentences to this post, a friend from our Quaker Meeting, Beth Bussiere, sent me an email about this very topic. I will leave you with her words: “What I found myself finally with was how interconnected lamentations and gratitude are. That without lamentations, without acknowledging the grief and the grievous, our gratitude can be misplaced or superficial. On the other hand, without gratitude, our lamentations can just pull us under.”

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Tonight I went out into the back hall, our cold storage area, and filled a basket with potatoes from this past summer’s garden.

We revel in the pleasure of eating food we’ve grown as we pull things from the back hall or the freezer. We feel connected to the earth knowing we are eating all that loving labor (much of the labor done by my parents, I’ll freely admit). I wish everyone could feel that way. Continue reading

quantum change.

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The perspective in this photograph feels like a metaphor. It feels like it’s full of metaphors, actually, just like the asparagus was. Words don’t form for me about it, though. If I try putting it into words, I get lost. Not finding words is something new. Or maybe it’s something old that I’m finally accepting?

Painting lets me share without words, whether I’m viewing them or making them. When I visit van Gogh’s paintings I get as close as the staff will allow (that’s much closer than most “polite” museum-goers usually get). First, I stand back at the regular viewing position. I take in the whole picture; the shapes and layout, the lights and darks, the feelings it brings up in me. IMG_1832 Then, I get in close:
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I look as close as I can so I can see the brush strokes. (I’ve seen his fingerprints, too!)IMG_1833Looking very, very closely is what I do. Aware of the larger picture, I get in close and take it apart. I see the pieces. The whole picture is still there and doesn’t exist without all of the close-in parts; the close-in parts are usually luscious and meaty even when the overall picture is delicate or light.

Writing, even just this train-of-thought casual stuff, maybe especially this stuff, feeds my soul (if I believed in souls). Considering and discussing ideas also nourishes me. I love words. I love dancing with them — “nourish” isn’t quite right back there — and appreciating them. But, while I enjoy writing, the movement of ideas or thoughts or concepts from inside my brain out into the world in a verbal way isn’t comfortable or satisfying for me. Writing allows me time to consider my thoughts before getting the words out. And then there’s the fact that my inner-world has many places with no words; that’s why I paint.

Lately, instead of considering painting a luxury I can’t afford, both in terms of finances and time, I’ve realized I can’t fight it anymore. I need to get it out. Nothing has really changed in my life, except that, in some respects, everything has.

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“The hoarding of wealth is violence.”

“The hoarding of wealth is violence.” I saw this somewhere on the Internet and can’t find the original source. I appreciate it because “greed” is a term that can be disputed; it’s so relative. While “hoarding” is still a bit slippery, it captures the kind of greed that crosses the line into violence.

The top 1% of the wealthiest people in our country fit into the “hoarding” category. Maybe more people do, but if we could force (yes, force, through legislation) the hoarders to share with people living in poverty (or something like reparations for slavery), a lot of our broken system could be fixed.

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Jill Stein is not Jesse Ventura (why I might vote Green in the presidential election)

In 1999, I voted for the Green Party in the Governor’s race. I was young and idealistic. I voted for a candidate who really fit with my values. After Jesse Ventura was elected Governor, a lot of people told me it was because of people like me not sticking with the Democrats. Back then —whether the corporate world had already purchased our government or not, I don’t know (I was young and idealistic, remember)— I believed everyone’s vote made a difference, so I believed my vote had ultimately been a bad decision.

Here we are again, but the stakes are much higher. The idea of voting for a candidate who truly represents my values is terrifying. The consequences could be deadly, without any exaggeration (a President Trump would lead to many deaths around the world, I have no doubt).

At this point, I have no allegiance to any party or any candidate. People who know me are surprised to find I’m not an avid supporter of Bernie Sanders. It’s not that I think he’s not an amazing politician; I just don’t think he’s radical enough to change our broken system. I’ve given no energy in the time of primaries as the Democrats have selected their candidate. If I’m going to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” I’m simply going to vote Not Trump.

As I stay in my place of indecision with my mind as open as it can be, I do wonder if perhaps the time is right for real change? What if everyone who loves Bernie Sanders for all of his progressive and practical values really looked at Jill Stein as a candidate? What if the major media outlets all included Jill Stein in their reporting? What if…?

A lot of people hate Hillary Clinton. I don’t. I think she’s about the same as President Obama. Both are owned by Wall Street but both care deeply about trying to do the right thing with the cards they feel they were dealt.

What if everyone who recognizes Donald Trump for what he is — a very, very dangerous man — took some time to look at Jill Stein’s plan? What if there was an actual revolution in our political process? What if we tell the corporations we’re sick of them making all of our decisions, that we want to create a government by the people, of the people, and for the people in ways it never has been before?

 

 

 

 

 

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