While some of us on the East Coast are having our holiday dampened by Hurricane Arthur – Boston had to move it’s fireworks to the 3rd and barely beat the weather – I hope the rest of you are enjoying your holiday weekend and celebrating America in style. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all of the brave men and women who have fought for this country, and those who work tirelessly to make her a little better every single day.
Happy Birthday America!
For the past few years, Facebook has allowed its users to construct a “Year in Review”, full of highlights from the past year – photos and status updates that received the most “likes” or comments from other users. To be honest, I just did mine today because to me, a year in a review truly cannot be done until the year is virtually over. But before I ran the year in review, I wondered what it would look like, what would be featured, and what I could gather from that review…
Indeed, the past year has been one full of changes and challenges, of fulfillment and turmoil, of triumphs and terror. It has been punctuated with tremendous highs – graduating with a Masters in Public Health, traveling to and operating in Haiti, becoming an uncle again, enjoying my relationship with my significant other and growing into a better person as a result. The year has had its share of lows as well – the uncertainty of returning to general surgery training, readjusting to a “work/life” balance upset by medicine, feeling rusty and inadequate as a physician and surgeon, grappling with a challenging personal issue involving my family, and grasping and coming to terms with the immeasurable loss of my grandmother.
I certainly would not have survived without the love of my dearest friends, a love that became all too clear after the terrifying events of the Boston Marathon bombing and ensuing lockdown. There are moments in life where you wish for your family to be close by, to hug and to hold your parents and to have them tell you that everything will be okay. Sadly, my family does not live near Boston, and in those horrifying moments after the bombing, it was my friends that I turned to for comfort, support, and camaraderie. They are the rocks on which I rely for strength, the shoulders to cry on, and the ears to talk to. It has been said that friends are the family we choose for ourselves, and I like to think I’ve chosen wisely.
So yes… I wondered what that “year in review” would reveal. And then… I remembered why I love New Year’s Eve so much to begin with, because New Year’s Eve is not meant to be a time to only rewind, regret, and wonder what could have been. Reflecting on the year that has gone is great but only as a stepping stone for the year ahead. For those who don’t like New Year’s Eve, those who get bogged down in the mad dash of the holiday season and the need to figure out what to do, New Year’s Eve isn’t about the best party plans or sitting alone wallowing in self-pity. New Year’s Eve is a gift we are given each year, an opportunity to change the bad, to put our fears, regrets and sorrows behind us, and to start over again with a clean slate. New Year’s Eve is the ultimate chance to look ahead, not backward. So take a moment to reflect and ponder, generate your “year in review” and remind yourself of all the good times. Then ask yourself not what could have been – but what should be done. And once you have your answer, raise your glass and toast to what will be.
By now we’ve all heard about major retailers opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving day, promising to turn Thanksgiving Day into one of the biggest shopping days of the year. (On a side note, several states including Massachusetts don’t allow stores to open on holidays, so the big box retailers will be promptly opening at 1am on Friday.)
The most surprising move was from Kmart, where executives decided to open stores at 6am on Thanksgiving Day. The announcement by Kmart was quickly followed by Walmart, Target, Kohls and it seemed like almost everyone else. This year, Americans may have to take their turkey on the go instead of enjoying the holiday at home.
I’m a little conflicted on opening stores on Thanksgiving. After all, the holiday is supposed to be about being thankful for the things we already have in our lives. And truly, only in America do we trample over one another and fight for consumer goods the very day after we are thankful for family, friends, and what we already have in our lives. To me, encroaching on Thanksgiving Day just seems… well wrong. As one author put it, it’s easy to forgo shopping on Thanksgiving if for no other reason than to not force some single mom to ring up worthless purchases instead of enjoying Thanksgiving with her children.
But what about that single mom or the man/woman working at Walmart? We all know that Walmart doesn’t pay their workers a liveable wage (a lot of Walmart’s employees are on SNAP or Medicaid). Working retail on a holiday usually means being paid time and a half, a not insignificant amount of money for those struggling to make ends meet.
So is “Black Thanksgiving” really all that bad? I’m still not a fan but the jury could be out. What do y’all think?