Thanksgiving: To Work or Not To Work?

I’ve run across several post and articles on Facebook concerning the morality or lack of morality of Americans having to work on Thanksgiving Day.

Many are against working on a day that has traditionally been set aside where most families including extended family members gather to spend the day together.

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Those who have spoken out against working on Thanksgiving promote the sacredness of family while enjoying a day free from the obligation of commerce and noisy shoppers.  This passion for tradition runs deep.

It seems as if it wasn’t that long ago when Black Friday for all intents and purposes didn’t really start till 7:00 am the day after Thanksgiving.  Brave souls may line the cold streets and parking lots of their favorite malls at 5:00 am to be the first to get in on what may be the best deals of the season.  But as years passed and the market expanded, stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy changed the game by opening earlier and earlier.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who foresaw that Black Friday would eventually start on Thanksgiving Thursday.  Malls may have survived the feeding frenzy for shoppers a little while longer had it not been for the internet.  Online shopping has made such an impact towards the convenience of the shopper, they had no choice but to open their doors and give themselves and opportunity to get that early dollar.  I get that.

Still is there perhaps a limit to our condition of having money burning holes in our pockets?  I read recently where a manager at a Pizza Hut restaurant was fired for refusing to open his store on Thanksgiving.  He wanted his employees to have the day off for those aforementioned and traditional reasons.   I can dig that too.  I mean, who is going to order pizza on Thanksgiving Day anyway?  Apparently some people will.  Which is a point I will get to shortly.

Just like employment, paid vacation time is a premium that many average wage workers in America don’t have the luxury of having. Our laws don’t mandate that employers require them like Europe where the mandatory vacation minimum is 4 weeks per year.  Within our business and political cultures many business owners spar with the lower classes of people who are most often their workers.  Many conservatives wouldn’t dare support a mandate requiring ONE week of vacation.  For the working poor to the lower middle classes, it’s work more hours for less pay with the least amount of benefits.  The ‘job creator’ is doing a favor for the worker in their eyes.  For a standard employee to share in the wealth or benefits of a successful business is considered Marxism.  This is what we have bought into.  And that brings me to my final point.

The culture of instant gratification is what we have craved for decades.  Instant stardom, (see music and reality TV) instant food, instant movies, (Netflix) and even instant buck dancing preachers from LA.  We want to be the first and best at everything pop culture and with that family values and traditions have fallen to the way side.  If you are working at a department store, a mall, or a kiosk on Thanksgiving, it’s not merely because the company you work for is greedy.  It’s because your friends, family and fellow citizens who have bought into the same quick, fast and lickety-split lifestyles you’ve required have demanded that you be available to service their lust.  If that wasn’t the case then on Thanksgiving the stores would be empty or not congregated enough to maintain staff.

For all who could not travel and be with family I totally understand your pain.  I’m for the idea of having sacred holidays where society takes a rest.  But equally valid is that we cannot pontificate as if others are not and have not worked for decades on Thanksgiving; from the local drug store or the gas station to get those eggs you ran out of, to the people who bring you football and other entertainment on television.  (I won’t even talk about police, firefighters, military personnel and hospitals.)  It’s a two way street.  And in these days and times, to have a job is a blessing in itself.

Anyhoo… Whatever situation you fall upon, Happy Thanksgiving

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