Last week, an international student in my class declared that Thanksgiving is a terrible holiday — a time when people are killed. “What do you mean?” I asked, madly searching for some explanation. I recalled that suicide rates spike during the winter holidays, but I didn’t think that was it.
The student then explained that she’d learned about the origins of Thanksgiving and how it arrived amidst a virtual genocide of indigenous Americans. The other students and I had to admit that was true. This mortality-Thanksgiving connection is, indeed, part of U.S. history. Then, as the discussion continued, another student helpfully pointed out that it wasn’t just a dark spot in our past. In very recent memory, post-turkey shopping turned deadly. It happened again last year. The international student wasn’t at all surprised.
“Will you have a chance to experience a Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S.?” we asked the foreigner. Perhaps. She’d been invited to one, but said she feared to venture out of her dorm room that day. The international student was only half kidding. Continue reading