Ah, November! The costumes and Halloween decorations have been put away, the leaves are changing, the supermarkets are fully stocked with turkeys, and the end of baseball season gives way to the roaring cheers of football. The days are warm, the nights are cool, and everyone is getting ready to stuff their faces and loosen their belts until after the new year.
Besides football and food, this, the 11th of our 12-month calendar, is for family, and for taking stock of all the things worth being thankful for. We even set apart a whole day to the giving of thanks – a celebration of a meal shared between the European pilgrims of yore and their indigenous neighbors. A celebration of friendship, of kindness, of sharing – all things worthy of our thankfulness.
Unfortunately, as time goes on, we become less thankful of those intangible values and more thankful for 48-hour sales on large TVs, or multiple screens so we can cheer (or jeer) at two or more games at once. It seems that, even in my 33 years, the traditions that made up what was my father’s favorite holiday have deteriorated into a black mirror, reflecting our consumerist nature.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Black Friday deals and take advantage of them yearly. But it’s not just Black Friday anymore, is it? The sales start on Thursday – Thanksgiving Day – and go on until the first day of the following week, dubbed by Shop.com some years ago as “Cyber Monday.” The standard family traditions have become less about watching parades and sitting together at the dinner table, and more about a family trip to Walmart and Home Depot.
I know traditions fade and get replaced by new ones. I’m not ignorant to the ever-present tides of change in human history. However, what it comes down to, at least as I see it, is the collective system of values we hold as a society. What do we value most? And perhaps more importantly, what are we teaching the following generations they should value most?
I’m not trying to tell you how to arrange your values. And I’m not trying to tell you not to go to Walmart on Thanksgiving. That’s not my place. All any of us can do is take a step back and take stock of everything in our lives that we hold dear, then weigh them on the scales of personal value. Allow our conscience to tell us what’s most important.
(The Wright Idea is a monthly column created by Nogales author Joe Wright in honor of his father’s long-time NI column, The Wright Stuff. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)