This week, on Thanksgiving week, I want to pause in gratitude to hands and especially the hands of the farmer. There is no turkey dinner, no cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, without someone's hands touching our food at each point in its nearly invisible journey - from the fields, the factory, the shipping truck, to the market, to the table. There is no Thanksgiving without acknowledging, too, how this federal holiday is steeped in the painful history of stolen lands and broken promises. So in giving thanks, there is also space to mourn and remember the true meaning of today.
Corn and calendula
The hands that harvest are brown hands. They are black hands. They are hands in earthen hues from sand to silt. They are calloused hands. Grandfather's hands. Lola's hands. Old hands that know wet clay. Young hands that grow rougher with each season.
These hands are Pilipino to Pomo. Chinese to Mexican. Korean to Puerto Rican. Hawaiian to Afro-diasporic. Japanese to Sikh. Irish to Guatemalan. These hands are cutting asparagus, pulling silver fish from the sea, praying into seeds.
The hands that harvest are broken, bleeding, and torn. These hands are misunderstood and denied a share in the harvest many farmers cannot take to their own tables. The hands that harvest are nourishing, beautiful, and strong. They are life-giving hands. They are the ones that feed the world. I am grateful to those hands.
Amaranth and vaca beans
My hands are still soft and barely calloused urban hands. When I look into the palms, though, I see something else much older than myself. I see the lines that connect me to my parents, my grandparents, and ancestors that came before us. I see hands that tell the stories of their lives, their soil, their struggles and celebrations. I am grateful to harvest the richness of their history in my hands.
Sunflowers and sweet honey