My favorite episode of King of the Hill is the Thanksgiving episode, where Bobby renounces the holiday in solidarity with John Red Corn, who teaches Bobby about the atrocities that happened to the indigenous people of the United States.
Growing up is a terrible thing, because the nostalgia of your childhood gets replaced by the “enlightenment” of getting older. When you’re young, Christopher Columbus is an amazing adventurer, your parents are the smartest people you know, and G-d is in heaven smiling down on you and making sure you’re OK. Then your teen years happen and you become cynical, giving up on the genocidal Spaniard, you realize your parents are clueless and sure enough, G-d is make believe.
But education doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t need to “grow up” out of everything. There are certain truths to life that transcend the intellectual and should never be taken away from us. Thanksgiving, I believe, is one of them. Yes, native people were massacred. But giving up on turkey and mashed potatoes doesn’t make that go away. Bobby Hill learned that, and I think we should, too.
And how about G-d? Does the fact that no one has recently split the ocean or stopped the sun or made a snake or a donkey talk really going to persuade you to stop believing in the Higher Power? It’s true, and I’ll be the one to say it: we have no historical proof that the Patriarchs and Matriarchs existed, or that Moses and the Exodus were real, or that any of the miracles really happened. But in giving up the fairy tales, are you really going to be ego-centric enough to say that there is no Creator? And even if you struggle with the “facts” of the Bible, will that be enough to keep you from a Shabbat table?
I’m happy with Thanksgiving, even if the Puritans were dubious people and that native people got a raw deal (and frankly, still do). And I’m OK with the fact that the history of the Bible is not terribly accurate. It won’t keep me from celebrating my own humanity, which is what I believe holidays like Thanksgiving and Shabbat have in common.
So enjoy your dressing and candied yams. They aren’t at the expense of native people. And enjoy your G-d, too! Don’t let your intelligence take away from the joy of a good life.