And still, we give thanks

Posted by Ailen Arreaza on Thu, Nov 22, 2012 at 9:46 AM

Whenever I see ads for Black Friday on television, I feel sick to my stomach - and not only because America's consumerism disgusts me. Black Friday has a very negative connotation for me. On Black Friday three years ago, my father had an accident that resulted in his death. It was, by far, the darkest day of my life.

My dad fought for his life while shoppers at Walmart fought over a limited number of deeply discounted laptops, and for some illogical reason, part of me that resents those shoppers. I know my father's death wasn't their fault and that there's nothing they could have done to prevent it, but the thought of so many others being engrossed in something so trivial while my family was crumbling makes me angry. I want to yell at those shoppers. I want to tell them that none of it matters, that I would trade every single Christmas present in the world just for the chance to have one more Thanksgiving with my father.

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I find it so odd that, just a few hours after Americans celebrate all that we are thankful for, we act as if none of it is enough. We get up before sunrise and stand in endless lines and shove our way through store aisles and max out our credit cards just to get more stuff. Stuff I'm sure no one mentioned or thought about when sitting around their Thanksgiving table. Because when we are asked what we are thankful for, we don't talk about the latest iPad or designer purse - we talk about people.

You'd think that living through such a tragic event on a holiday would ruin Thanksgiving forever. But that hasn't been the case, at least not for me. Every single day, I wish my dad were here to see Luki and Pau grow up. But if I had to choose to relive one moment with my father, I'd choose one particularly memorable Thanksgiving. I can still see him, standing by the table, surrounded by those he loved, giving thanks for his new grandson, for his wife's health, for all who had gathered in his home. I am so thankful that I was able to share that moment with him.

So while Black Friday has become a revolting day for me, Thanksgiving has also become incredibly meaningful. On Thursday my family won't just give thanks as a tradition. We will be truly and deeply grateful for all that we have in that moment, knowing full well that, come Friday, everything could change.

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