With Thanksgiving barely a week behind us and Chanukah just ending, it seems a particularly appropriate moment to reflect on this year’s most unusual juxtaposition of sacred and secular celebrations. Beyond the kitsch of “Thanksgivukah,” as so many referred to it, there is a common thread between the two holidays, and it is a significant one. Both are about gratitude.
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a piece for this paper about Pilgrims and Native Americans. It spoke of how the legacy of the Thanksgiving story often falls prey to deconstructionists, who value historical truth over cultural myth at all cost. Rather than have children- and, for that matter, adults- celebrate a cherished American belief in a common appreciation of blessings, they would argue that historical reality in all of its messiness- or at least, the probability of its being reality- must trump exercises in feel-good nostalgia rooted in legend.