Tuesday, December 1, 2015


The holiday season, among other things, reminds us of the intrinsic values of the finer things in life—friends, family, health, peace. However, alongside that humble tradition, we’ve incorporated a more destructive cultural practice.

    America writes its shopping list in the weeks preceding Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the floodgates are opened the Friday following Turkey Day—Black Friday, a marketing ploy both loved and hated to a high degree.

    The infectious lifeblood of frenzied consumerism that courses through our country’s veins is unleashed, sweeping away Thursday’s reminders of the importance of the simpler pleasures with sale prices and limited time offers. You should take this description with a grain of salt, though. I never was much of a shopper.

    Particularly these days, as a “financially limited” college student who spends the majority of the year a few hundred miles from family, long-time friends, and all the aesthetic features that characterize home, when I am granted an opportunity to revisit and enjoy those things, there is little more on my mind. I have a lot to be thankful for—among them, family, friends, opportunity, and passion—and I believe it essential in recognizing that to control zeal and further material gain.

    Last year, somewhat on accident, my older brother, Phillip (whom I used to write about more frequently), and I established what is becoming a tradition of spending Black Friday on the water together.

    Black Friday, 2014 was an absolutely frigid day. It was easy to question whether or not we were actually behaving in a more sensible manner than the shoppers of O-dark-thirty. Nevertheless, we convened in a frosted parking lot in Charlottesville at dawn and made tracks towards a trout stream over the mountain.

    As the first day in a steep cold snap, the fishing was slow, though I did manage to seal the deal on an 18-inch brown, while Phillip capitalized on a few of the stream’s smaller residents.

    Noon arrived, and the mercury hadn’t evaded the biting 20s, so we called it a day and found comfort a few centimeters in front of the car’s blasting heat vents.

    2015 brought a more temperate day. After a hearty Thanksgiving dinner, I passed out on the couch to rise early the next morning and place a bead on the Highlands. The drive was colored with meaningful, spirited conversation (as we no longer get to spread it out throughout the year) and was far from exhausted when we reached our destination.

    Recent rains had the creek running strong, though not high. Taking turns on pools and pockets, we passed the morning and afternoon casting dry flies and nymphs to native brook trout and telling fish stories from our time apart not yet relayed.

    Though our fingers are numb and our feet frozen from standing in barely-above freezing waters, these days end warmly. It’s a feeling fueled by neither greed nor desire, but by the feeling of progressive nostalgia that comes with practicing classic things, by the idea that family and memories and passions will continue to be perpetuated, year after year, even after the last of the flatscreens have been purchased and the Christmas music fades into the background for another year.

    This is what the holidays are about.

*Originally published in the Rural Virginian.

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