Thanksgiving and Hozhoji

It’s impossible to predict, but with any luck, November will be bookended by a presidential election and the coming together of families and friends at that uniquely American holiday, Thanksgiving.

In this weirdest of years, the election may still be ongoing at turkey time if there are contentious recounts. Along with the turkey and stuffing and pies might be a bottle of Maalox for indigestion.

Hopefully, there will be glorious fall foliage and crisp weather to distract us.

This holiday that celebrates the feast of newly arrived pilgrims with the Native Americans used to come with church hymns, grade school children dressing up and re-enacting the landing of the Mayflower.

Along with the anticipation of the all-important meal, there comes football, parades, and the kickoff of Christmas shopping on Black Friday. 

“Perhaps despite being a divided rather than a united nation, we could all look to this concept of Navajo people: Hozhoji. It’s unpronounceable to my tongue but means to live a life of beauty, balance, and blessing with intention — all the time.”

We are called to be thankful, but to whom?

In ages past, that was God, but the G-word is now politically incorrect.

Like every other holiday in 2020, this promises to be quite different. People will be masking up for groceries and social distancing at any sporting event and malls. So many of the grade schools aren’t even in session that plays and chorales are off the table. Plus, the story itself may also be a thing of the past given cancel culture. 

The pilgrims and early settlers will no doubt be excoriated by the revisionists. It is true that in our history that the Native Americans were not well treated with the Westward expansion. It is also true that many participated in man’s inhumanity to man. Woe to the conquered enslaved by the Apache or Comanche, whose torture methods would not be appetizing at the dinner table. Violence comes with tribal wars, world wars, civil wars, gang wars, street brawlers, and knows no color or nationality. It gives us a deep yearning for peace. So while my youngest grandchildren may never be in a Thanksgiving play like their siblings, parents, and grandparents, it is incumbent on family and friends to tell the story of Thanksgivings past, while adapting to the new normal, whatever that turns out to be. 

Perhaps despite being a divided rather than a united nation, we could all look to this concept of Navajo people: Hozhoji. It’s unpronounceable to my tongue but means to live a life of beauty, balance, and blessing with intention — all the time.

What a Thanksgiving benediction that would be. 


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Len Bourland

The views expressed by columnist Len Bourland are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of People Newspapers. Email Len at [email protected]

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