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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Guilty Pleasures, Or Simptoms of a Workaholic

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2

Most of us understand that these economic times are challenging for most of America.  Far too many of us are looking for work and not able to find it.  As of now I am blessed not to have that problem.  I am employed by three different companies in addition to being an independent contractor myself.   As of now, having work to do is not a problem for me.  (knock on wood)

As a matter of fact to the contrary, I have been working in abundance and even more than what normal people do.  The two days I was off in February were the two days that I purposed to be off for my birthday.  Otherwise its been non stop.  Part of my business is seasonal so I have to grab many of the opportunities afforded me while they last.  Yet despite the lack of rest and constant running, the payoff is an attempt to try to get ahead, have savings and at least some sort of options for fun.  Then there are the occasional unexpected and expensive  items such as having to get a car repair.  I have all sorts of good reasons to justify getting my hustle on. 

And yet equally true is that I find on a day like today, an evening when I am actually off and purposed to rest and chill out for the evening to catch up on the rest that I have neglected, I find that very difficult to do.  On my way in from the office I stopped at the bank to make a deposit, and then to the store to pick up dinner.  I wanted to maybe get on the computer, or hop on the couch to watch some TV, (something simple and mindless as a matter of fact) enjoy dinner and chill out.  I wasn’t supposed to clean the kitchen or take out the trash.  Not supposed to wipe things down or police the area.  I’m tired for godsakes!  My mind is weary and my body is holding on for deal life.  But for some reason I find it hard to settle down and take advantage of the rest while I can.

It’s called being a workaholic.  And workaholics tend to feel guilty for having time off.  We feel unproductive when we aren’t accomplishing anything.  I got it bad.  When I was off for my birthday weekend, I was so tired for most of it I didn’t get to enjoy it quite as much as I should have.  I fell asleep early and was tired often.  At least then because I looked forward to it I purposed my heart to rest and relax.  I did for the most part.  Though I still ended up doing a bunch or errands.   After all, when your off work there lies the opportunity to do the things you never get to do when work is constantly calling such as pick up the items I dropped off at the cleaners a month ago or washing clothes before I run out of clean underwear.

Sigh.  I know that rest and relaxation are a part of having a balanced life.  I should embrace the restful times and take full advantage of the breaks I get.  I’ll work on it.  Been through this before.  Whenever my schedule gets this busy, there is an adjustment period where it takes me a while to get used to actually sitting still when I get a break.

In the meantime, I can’t allow guilt and the difficult times of America to NOT allow me to enjoy the blessings in life.  I’ve had hard times before and know in my heart I am thankful.  If I don’t enjoy my rest, I will be no less guilty of a lack of faith in God and His provisions.