Land and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day is a day of return, the day when we re-weave the threads of our diaspora around the tables of family and friends. You may be undertaking a journey, across town or across the country, in order to get to that bittersweet place you think of as home.

Home is perhaps the most primary relationship to land: land as memory, land as gathering ground, land as the place where we bind ourselves in relationship to each other. One Black/Land interview participant from rural Ohio recalls her father’s purposeful making land and family memory one:

“I don’t know where this came from in him, but [my dad] started planting trees and bushes for major events in our lives, the death of one of his brothers, the birth of a baby. So every tree and bush in our yard has a meaning, has a purpose. There’s one — Caitlin has a tree, my nephew has a tree. There are trees for all of his siblings who passed away. So it’s this beautiful piece of land, all these great trees and bushes and evergreens and they all have a history, a purpose. You ought to see it now. It’s beautiful.

As we gather to reflect upon what gives shape and meaning to our lives, may we be attentive for the story of the land upon which we gather. When you assemble at Big Mama’s homestead;  bow your heads in a room overlooking a suburban yard or a city block; or arrive back home to the family farm, take a moment this Thanksgiving to listen for, and to pass on, those black land stories. They tell us who we are together, and for what we must give thanks.