Black Friday is, quite possibly, the calendar date most uniquely appropriated by our society, which this year I discovered has now expanded into Grey Thursday and Cyber Monday. It is, essentially, a several-day festival in praise of our consumerism and materialism. It is this holiday, Black Friday, that I must explain to my Latino friends when they see news clips of people lining up by the hundreds in the cold morning hours to save a few dollars on more excess that will clutter their homes, consume their waking hours, and frustrate their lives. It is this rush of crazed shoppers bursting through the doors and trampling each other that I must explain to confused friends watching the images broadcast from my passport country to theirs. My host mom looked blankly at me when I assured her “this is a normal thing, we do it each year. There isn’t a shortage or anything, it’s not a protest… it is just for cheap sales.”
I have to believe to there’s more to u.s. than that. I have to believe there’s more to me than that.
I’m not sure what tangible form it takes, how much it weighs, or how many linear inches it takes up. If I knew I would make room for it in my luggage. I am saddened, as an anthropologist, that there are no “artifacts” I take back with cultural significance to talk about my U.S. life with others. There simply isn’t anything material, tangible, and physical that I associate with my U.S. life.