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Giving Thanks vs. Saving Money

Powhusku from Laramie, WY, USA Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a peaceful time surrounded by family, close friends and a delicious meal. It took an outside perspective for me to see how another tradition may be dominating American Culture this time of year.

Last year I met a Brazilian foreign exchange student. His name is Lucas. He was my neighbor and good friend. Getting to know him was a privilege for me because I got to see American culture through his eyes. As the end of November neared, he told me he was going to stay in the dorms by himself for Thanksgiving. A trip back to Brazil for one week would cost too much.

So, I arranged for him to come to my house to have a true Thanksgiving experience. With open arms my family welcomed Lucas and he was joyed by warmth of the hospitality. After spending a week with him I didn’t consider him my friend. I considered him my brother. He was able to see all the crazy card games my family has played since I was little. 

Lucas was able to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving. We filled our bellies with oven roasted turkey, sweet potatoes and greenbean casserole. It was time to unbutton the pants, put the feet up and watch some football. The game seemed overtaken by a large amount of Black Friday ads. But here’s the kicker, the deals didn’t start on Friday. No, they began as early as 6pm on Thanksgiving.

Lucas turned to me and said that he wanted to go Black Friday shopping to experience American culture. This got me thinking about what kind of image we are setting for ourselves as a country. 

How a materialistic day, like Black Friday can be considered a part of American culture. Where there have been reports of people falling asleep at the wheel and driving into oncoming traffic. Even a New York Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death. From 2006 to now there has been seven deaths and 98 injuries on Black Friday. 

Sure, saving money on the latest Millennium Falcon LEGO set for your kid is exciting. But spending time with good company and community is what Thanksgiving is all about. So, grab that dusty board game off the shelf and share some laughs. Plus, there’s always Cyber Monday.

Ryan Garity is a sophomore Broadcasting Major at Western Illinois University.

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University or Tri States Public Radio.  Diverse viewpoints are welcomed and encouraged.