Black Friday in Mexico

By Jon and Vonda Look (December 2011)

I have learned that sometimes when you take a step back and contemplate life and the path you have taken, things surprise you. For instance, the holidays and what I hope will—in attitude anyway—become the new normal for us. Location is always where you are, but attitude is what you make of it.

This year we haven't really been suffering through any of the commercial pressures running up to the holidays. Of course Mexico doesn't celebrate American Thanksgiving so consequently there is little evidence of the holiday season here so far. We gringos will occasionally mention its arrival but it is usually in a manner of, "Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving" or "Wow, I have to get to shopping soon or everyone will hate me." There are no "Super Sales" or teaser specials designed to get you into the store and drain your wallet. Thanksgiving is just another Thursday and in many ways I am perfectly okay with that.

It is not that I don't like Thanksgiving. In fact I love the concept of Thanksgiving and being thankful. I am hugely grateful for the health and abundance that the universe has permitted me to have. More importantly I am grateful for my wife, my family and my friends—those I get to see often and those that are now mostly just in my thoughts. My issue with Thanksgiving in general comes not from what we were taught as children—what the day should represent—but what it has become: a consumer-driven, possession-oriented orgy of more, more, more.

The thing that pains me the most about the Thanksgiving holiday is not the holiday itself but the day after—what has become known as "Black Friday." When I checked the news from the United States this year of the Friday after the holiday, the headlines screamed of violence and consumer mayhem. People were camping out overnight (missing Thanksgiving) in lines. People were spending money they don't have, often out of guilt. People were being trampled and even pepper-sprayed in numerous incidents of "competitive shopping." (Yes, I guess modern marketing manipulation has totally flipped the merchant/consumer relationship so far askew that now people are willing to brave almost any humiliation to kick and claw each at other in order to give their money away.) Thanksgiving Day seems no longer to be a day of giving thanks, but a day of studying the newspapers with their bloated advertising sections for sales, watching football, and scheming about ways to go stand in line the next day to acquire more stuff to satisfy some unfulfilled want.

Vonda and I did miss the traditional aspects of Thanksgiving as we are hidden away here in Mexico, but it was nice knowing that we were missing the consumerist anarchy. We did get to have turkey and trimmings on Thursday at the Leaky Palapa Restaurant in beautiful "downtown" Xcalak. And we did get to spend time with some new friends and acquaintances. On Friday, instead of stressing in lines waiting to spend money, I got to go for a few last SCUBA dives in the Xcalak National Marine Park. I even managed to sneak in one last dinner at Fernando's 100% Agave in Mahahual with my XTC Dive Center diving instructor extraordinaire, C.J. Janzen. It was great!

I know the Christmas holidays are celebrated more in Mexico but I look forward to seeing that holiday through new eyes too. I also know there are aspects of the Christmas holiday I will absolutely miss, foremost among them, time with our families and especially my son. That will be hard but life is meant to be an education and an adventure. I just sometimes wish everyone could be with us on the journey all the time.

Leaky Palapa Xcalak Jon Look

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