If you feel uncomfortable celebrating a guy who did terrible things to native people in the new world, particularly given that Columbus's arrival preceded even more terrible things done to native Americans and that the United States has yet to fully confront that ugly legacy, then look to the north. Look to Canada!
Canada is one of the few countries here in the western hemisphere that does not celebrate any version of Columbus Day. Canadians are marking a holiday today, but it's a different one: Canadian Thanksgiving. Or, as it's known in Canada, Thanksgiving.
As this funny video from sketch comedy group Upright Citizen's Brigade explains, Canadian Thanksgiving is basically the same as American Thanksgiving in every way except for the date.
Yes, like Columbus Day, both Thanksgivings are still a bit awkward for their unstated connection to the destruction of native communities that came as a result of the colonization celebrated by the holiday. But at least they acknowledge those native Americans and attempt to incorporate them somewhat into the holiday. And, unlike Columbus Day, Canadian Thanksgiving has lots of great traditions, many of which involve food.
So, if you're an American off work today for Columbus Day but feeling a bit weird about it, just celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving instead. The grocery store won't be as much of a madhouse as it will for the American Thanksgiving, and you can get a turkey without ordering it three weeks in advance. Consider yourself officially welcome to the day by Stephanie Carvin, an adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa's international relations school, who tweeted, on behalf of her nation, "Hey Americans! Feeling uncomfortable with Columbus Day? You are cordially invited to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving."