American Traditions: Something Old, Something New

By Qin Sun Stubis

November boasts many great American traditions such as Election Day, when heated political debates and campaigns reach a finale, pumping patriotism right into our bloodstreams. We exercise our voting rights because we know that it’s up to us to select the right leaders, and that our freedom didn’t come easy and needs us to carry it on.

We also look forward to our most American celebration: the Thanksgiving feast. For rich and poor alike, there will be a roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and apple pie on the table. There will be loved ones gathered around to share plenty of everything.

After a satisfying meal with our dear family and friends, and a good night’s sleep, we eagerly rise before dawn, feeling brave and generous, joining thousands of others in shopping malls and megastores for the official opening of “Black Friday.”

We cannot resist so many “fantastic” deals, although they often become costly, burning a deep, dark hole in our bank accounts before the day is over. Yet we are still foolishly happy. “Black Friday,” worthy of its name, is the biggest shopping day of the year. It swings America from politics to capitalism in the nick of time.

To the outside world, November is the perfect window into the American dream: We, the people, vote for whomever catches our eye, support whichever belief delights our heart, feast on what people in a lot of the countries can only imagine with envy, and then spend as if Uncle Sam was truly our rich uncle.

For many this year, however, our tradition-filled month presents some challenges. As voters, our eyes are still darting around in search of a perfect candidate—someone like Superman—to make a sudden appearance on the ballot and fix all our problems; on the financial side, thousands of families are losing their homes every month. For them, it will be a black Friday without going shopping or spending a dime.

As a nation, America is flustered about our present and worried about our future. While we know that we still dwell in one of the greatest countries in the world, our bank accounts are shrinking along with the national economy. And we are still at war. We are impatient: We want change fast, and for the better. But, we often forget that all our troubles were not created within a day, month or year. It took a lot of irresponsible people a long time to drag America into this recession, and it will take a lot of serious Americans to work hard together for a long time to reverse our course.

As we preserve our traditions, we may also want to explore new ways to express our feelings and enrich our lives with our more limited resources. Our pioneering spirit has carried us far. We are the American pioneers for a new age, paving the road for the nation’s future. November is a time not just for patriotism and celebration, but for patience and endurance, and perhaps some new traditions that reflect the spirit of our times.

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