Thanksgiving: let’s make sure everyone feels welcome |

Thanksgiving: let’s make sure everyone feels welcome


At its most idyllic, Thanksgiving is supposed to be thesymbol of reaching across cultural boundaries to share nature’s bounty. At least that is how it is portrayed on TV and in preschool programs around the country — pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down together to share a harvest meal.

But those noble sentiments haven’t always panned out. As the pilgrims and their descendants secured a foothold, eventually dominating the native culture and establishing a coast-to-coast superpower, the holiday morphed into a carefully contrived celebration of an unnaturally homogenous American family.

Let’s blame it on the Puritans, Norman Rockwell and Ward and June Cleaver. Somehow Thanksgiving has turned into an annual family litmus test who is measuring up, who is not, who has managed to conform (or at least pretend to) and who has not. And far too often, those deemed to be ‘different’ have been excluded from the table.

Recently, though, our definition of the ‘perfect family’ has been expanding by leaps and bounds. We are not just talking about race and religion, but gender too.

So far, this has been a watershed decade for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Same-sex partners can now solemnize their relationships and openly gay activists are earning their rightful places in the halls of government. Park City High School has set aside a restroom for transgender students and earlier this month the local Rotary Club gave a standing ovation to a longtime member when he revealed he is undergoing a gender transition.

This year, let’s make a commitment to stretch our definitions of diversity and acceptance. If there is someone who has been excluded from your family’s holiday table, this is the year to bridge that chasm. Or, if you know someone whose own family isn’t ready to make that leap invite them to join yours. If you are lucky, they will come and your celebration will truly represent the spirit of the season.