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Friday, 3 December 2010

Thanksgiving

Harry and Christy invited our family to a thanksgiving meal last Sunday, and it gave me such joy that I thought I would share it with you. Christy is from the United States, and is a community activist and joyful person of faith. last year, she married Harry, a thoughtful, playful Christian who always challenges me and makes me think. They have settled in Bradford where they do wonderful things for our city.

The thanksgiving meal was a vegetarian and vegan delight, but not only was the food divine, but the company was extraordinary. Christy and Harry open their home to destitute asylum (sanctuary) seekers, and they know some amazing people. People of all faiths and none crammed into their lovely house, made new friends and shared their stories.

Christy explained the controversies around the theme of thanksgiving: was it being thankful for escaping the Church of England? Was the familiar story of Native Americans feeding starving pilgrims a fairy tale? Was it really a celebration of subduing the local population?

We heard about the communities of Native Americans calling for the day to be one of mourning and remembering the continued problems faced by their people. Between 10-30 million native people died or were killed by the settlers following their arrival in the America's in the 17th Century.

How is it possible to reclaim genocide into an occasion of hope? As we each took turns to share the things we were grateful for, it became clear that despite the power of empires and occupiers, humanity still simply wants community and peace. We want to be thankful for life, and we want to give, not to take.  I thank my good friends Christy and Harry for opening my eyes and allowing thanksgiving to become a symbol diversity, unity and love. I also thank them for the banoffee pie!

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