Thanksgiving from an immigrant perspective

Food, family, and full are words commonly used to describe Thanksgiving by Americans. Yet this holiday is certainly loaded with mixed attitudes and it is fair to say that there is an underbelly to Thanksgiving, marked by colonialism and cultural appropriation. It is a time in which we reflect on the light and shadow sides of this holiday, a time of celebration and time of questioning.

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving story, which is really a story about immigration, we examine this holiday through the lens of first and second generation immigrants. Thanksgiving experienced as a time of cognitive dissonance is a similar sentiment expressed by many immigrants.

WellShare Program Coordinator shares his family’s unique way of enjoying Thanksgiving. “We have always celebrated it as a way for us to adapt to American culture and experience. Growing up, my family would gather with all of my cousins at my Aunt Reyna’s house. We ordered a turkey, mashed potatoes, and all the traditional foods along with our homemade Mexican favorites.” A WellShare CHW shares, “I personally avoid celebrating Thanksgiving because it’s not from my culture so I was never interested. Instead, I gather with a group of friends to connect and exchange gifts.” Another staff member expresses fascination with the festivities yet skepticism of the the historic significance. “I like the idea of a day of gratitude” says a Program Manager.

Perhaps the most unanimous attitude regarding this particular day of the year is that it is an opportunity to connect, relax, and build community. No matter who you are or where you are from, we can all experience reflection and gratitude in one form or another. We are grateful for you!

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