(Original from my blog The Heretic and the Holy Man)

The tradition of Thanksgiving, the image we all have of some peaceful co-existence between Native Americans and the (Immigrant) Pilgrims, is based mostly on myth and a false understanding of history.

While the Pilgrims may have sought religious freedom, it turned out they were not willing to sanction such in others.

Yet, from the ashes of a rewritten and flawed interpretation of history, a solid tradition arose. It bodes well that something good can come from a falsehood.

I am a product of 1960’s America. It was, for a young boy, a great time to be alive. Despite the real threat of Soviet nuclear missiles, the rage of segregation, and the daily deaths of young men in Vietnam, it seemed to be an idyllic time.

In this period, I came to appreciate the Thanksgiving Holiday.

It was different than Christmas where the focus was on the holiday itself. In 1960, Christmas for me meant a photo with Santa and early to bed on Christmas Eve until the morning of Christmas and the presents under the tree. By 1970, I was past Santa. While the spirit of Christmas lived on within me, it was not the same.

But Thanksgiving was different.

It was a time for the family to gather. It was on this day that cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents all found themselves together. It was a time where I came to know the great moments of being a family.

In the intervening years, I’ve come to know the true story of the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. That history was not all that my grammar school art and history projects portrayed.

But the idea of Thanksgiving lives on.

There is hope. In these uncertain moments before a tectonic shift in our government, there is a reason to be thankful.

This country, with all its flaws, still offers the opportunity for all to be free. We are not perfect, but we at least recognize that in ourselves. We make mistakes and we seek ways to correct them. Perhaps not as fast or in as direct a manner as some would have, but we try.

I am thankful for that.

I do not know what next Thanksgiving will be like, but I do believe there will be one. I believe between now and then we will make errors, make corrections, do more good than harm, and try to do what’s right.

I am thankful for that.

We have an opportunity to change America for the better. This election, if nothing else, has given us reason to pay attention. It has given us pause to consider what we want America to be.

I am thankful for that.

No matter how you voted, I believe most of you voted for what you believe to be the best chance for us to be a better country. If that turns out to be wrong, we will fix it. If it turns out to be right, we will learn from it.

I am thankful for that.

Unlike my partner in this blog, I am an optimist. I think things are never as bad as they seem and that we as a people are kind and good at heart. I am also a realist; these are uncertain times sure to challenge us all.

I am thankful for that, no matter how contradictory that may seem.

Americans are a different breed of people, We are not pedigree or purebred. We are a people, put together with spare parts, who have risen to be greater than anyone ever imagined.

I am thankful for that.

We are not perfect. We will never be perfect. We are not unified or homogeneous.  But it is our differences that offer us the most opportunity.

I am thankful for that.

It is our obligation to understand the truth. To always seek to better ourselves by offering others the chance to better themselves. Remember that and we will be here to celebrate Thanksgiving for generations of Americans to come.

Happy Thanksgiving.