Every holiday has their naysayers. On Christopher Columbus Day we talk about celebrating a man invading an already inhabited land. Weeks before Halloween there are endless discussions about racism. And for Christmas atheists fervently try to explain that Jesus was born in the spring and Christmas Trees are a pagan tradition.
And then there’s Thanksgiving. A holiday which has always raised eyebrows and discussions about the pioneers and the natives and whether or not we should actually be celebrating the day.
But I think most people have moved past that and are able to celebrate thanksgiving as the beginning of the holidays, a time to be thankful for the country we live in and the abundance we have, and a time to spend with family and friends.
And all was well and good… Until retail establishments decided to extend their Black Friday deals into Thanksgiving. Some stores started opening at Midnight, and then 11pm, and then 10. Some stores are now open all day, rewarding customers who choose to shop with wonderful deals.
Well, I say nay to Thanksgiving shopping.
In my opinion these are the only places that should be open on Thanksgiving:
1. Hospitals – For all those people who try to deep fat fry their turkeys and don’t know how to deep fat fry their turkeys.
2. Airports – Because I see no situation in which I would be able to persuade airports to close on any day of the year short of a bomb threat.
3. Places that cannot survive without staff – Steel factories, for instance, cannot be unmanned for a single hour, let alone a full day, or they will lose millions of dollars of product.
4. Bars – Because some people don’t have families and want to sing karaoke with strangers.
5. Volunteer Soup Kitchens – Because people should be able to choose to help others and people who can’t afford Thanksgiving should be able to eat while others indulge in more food that can be eaten. (I am guilty of the “too much food for too little people” Thanksgiving.)
Places I think absolutely should not be open although I know this isn’t a popular opinion:
1. Liquor Stores – Thanksgiving falls on the 4th Thursday of November Every. Single. Year. This gives you plenty of time to stock up on holiday booze before the actual holiday. And if you’re a forgetful person? Set an alarm on your phone or mark it on your calendar. Have an intricate system of friends and coworkers remind you. Do it the weekend before, the Wednesday before… Just don’t do it on Thanksgiving.
2. Restaurants – I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m crazy. You think restaurants are open so people who can’t or won’t cook don’t have to. Well I’ll tell you what I think, I think that’s bullshit. You don’t want to cook a meal so you go get served by someone who is forced to be there and is probably giving up time they could be spending with their own families. And don’t think Thanksgiving patrons are any more grateful to be served. I have experience with the bitching, complaining, bad mannered customers that come with the Holiday season.
And then there was retail.
If a single person can give me a good reason that retail establishments should be open on Thanksgiving that has absolutely nothing to do with money, then maybe I’d change my mind. But so far all I’ve heard is it’s good for the bottom line, people who work retail get time and a half (not always, by the by, know your shit before arguing with a long time retail employee), or it’s a good way to save a buck on Christmas shopping.
I’M SORRY. Is that not what Black Friday is all about? Black Friday where employees started their shifts anywhere between midnight and 6am? Where hordes of customers push their way through massive lines to try and get the latest toy or electronic? Where people actually have gotten INJURED AND KILLED because the need to get a good deal is strong in this one?
I worked a Black Friday years ago at a RadioShack. RS is known for having really great Black Friday deals and is very busy for small retail. This year we were offering the Zune at an extraordinarily low price but there had been a mix up in shipping and we only had 1 in stock. ONE. Of a product that had been wildly advertised. The first customer of the day came in and bought it and I spent the next 10 hours being victimized by customers who were angry, nay, furious that we were out. As if me, the 19 yr-old minimum wage worker had any say in it at all.
That’s Black Friday. Anyone who has worked a retail Black Friday knows the horrors. But Thanksgiving should be about family. About being, oh I don’t know, thankful. It should be about friends, and loved ones, and making memories. It should be about caring for your neighbor. Caring about the people who don’t get to see their families because they’re forced to work and couldn’t make a flight or get off too late for the several hour drive.
I have never had to work Thanksgiving but I’ve worked my fair share of Black Fridays. I haven’t seen my family on Thanksgiving for years. Instead I attend or host a friends and coworkers Thanksgiving for people like me who have been left behind and have nowhere to go. And I wholeheartedly feel for the people who are forced to work. My own sister starts her shift at 11pm Thanksgiving and then goes for 21 hours straight. I think that’s ridiculous, just so companies can make a buck.
But what about the people who shop on Thanksgiving? I have just has much disgust for these people as I have sympathy for the people who have to serve them. People who shop on Thanksgiving are not working, they’re often with family members, they’ve already had a great meal or they’re waiting for the turkey to finish. They get to have the perfect family Thanksgiving while putting money in these retailers pockets and proving that staying open on Thanksgiving is worthwhile. Because if people keep showing up, the retailers will keep staying open. And soon everyone will be doing it and Thanksgiving will lose the heart of what it is.
I vow not to shop on Thanksgiving and I hope everyone who reads this will too. Please don’t support the bottom line over family and friends. We can be a consumerist-driven society every other day of the year. Except Christmas.