I'm 42 and it was only yesterday, the day before Thanksgiving, that my children taught me what Thanksgiving really was.
Throughout our lives, well, as 80's children that is, we've been brought up on the telling of the Thanksgiving as being told from the 1988, The Mayflower Voyagers, a telling of the arrival of Pilgrims as told by the Peanuts gang in This is America, Charlie Brown.
This was how I learned about Thanksgiving. This is the story ['er, history?] that my children originally grew up with. That was until they were old enough and bright enough to do the research with mom for school (Homeschool Baby!).
I won't completely kill your childhood, there was, in fact, a Thanksgiving. However, the first Thanksgiving in 1637 was after an event that
...trapped some seven hundred Pequot Indians, mostly women, children, and the elderly, near the mouth of the Mystic River. Englishman John Mason attacked the Indian camp with "fire, sword, blunderbuss, and tomahawk." Only a handful escaped and few prisoners were taken-to the apparent delight of the Europeans... *
Ok, so the short of it is simple, I was brought up to think that Thanksgiving was America's celebration of our friendship with the original indigenous people of the North American continent. The worst part of this would be the fact that I went to a school that was predominately Native American and yet I had gotten not a single history lesson on the reality. In fact, in Junior High I still remember being taught about the Pilgrims but with no mention of the slaughter they initiated, but only the "slaughter they received from the native people."
During this afternoon's dinner I made it clear to the family that with my newfound knowledge (that they brought to my attention) that from now on I want to be sure that we remember that we're thankful for our family, friends, and ourselves during this holiday. Happy Thanksgiving.