Friday, November 27, 2009


One of the things I've noticed about myself is that I'm becoming more excited by American national holidays. This is clearly a result of me identifying myself as an American a little more each year. While I don't feel the change on a particularly deep level, on the face I things I reside in this country and so I participate in it's customs.

It's taken me a long time to understand the two major American Holidays, Independence Day and Thanksgiving. The thing is, they are just as grotesquely commercialized as Christmas and Easter, but since they don't have the same religious foundations there is no reason to feel badly about this fact. Actually, since they are primarily celebrations of Americanism, it is fitting that the typical festivities include overconsumption, sloth and shopping. The redeeming feature of Thanksgiving is that almost everybody is firmly committed to indulging in said activities with one's family.

I consider myself very lucky to have got to spend Thanksgiving with some of both sides of our family without having to leave Richmond. Undoubtedly the worst part of the holiday is the prospect of traveling long distances at the exact same instant that the entire rest of the country is also try to do the same. I also got off very lightly on responsibilities this year. A minimal role in making deviled eggs and some dishwasher loading. Perhaps this was why I was genuinely looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, rather than with a growing dismay at the disproportionate hype. In fact the hype seemed positively low key this November, even in relation to Black Friday.

There comes a point in everyone's life, often during their student years or shortly after. At one particular moment, having spent all your money on beer, pizza and DVDs, it occurs to you that a little moderation would go along way. I may be getting ahead of the game here, but there is a distinct possibility that the collective American consumer has had just such a moment thanks to the so called recession. People will still spend their hard earned cash on hopelessly tacky crap, but they'll buy slightly less. Today was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when stores open at 5am and entice shoppers with ridiculous sales. The shoppers dutifully turned out in good numbers, but seemingly without the ravenous frenzy that is usually associated with this day. They came, got a good deal, and went home quietly happy that a decent sum of money had been saved. Old ladies were not trampled. Pram-pushing mothers did not rugby tackle each other for the last of the door buster stock. I went to a shoe store at around 10am and there were only about three other customers.

So, maybe I have changed, maybe America has changed (probably a little of both), but the leftovers haven't yet been exhausted and I'm already looking forward to next Thanksgiving.

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