Where would you like to start?

More than likely, someone around your dining table will bring up the Thanksgiving day shopping argument. I appears this is the hot topic of the past week and people in the no-shopping group have vehemently opposed the idea of retailers and restaurants being open on Thanksgiving day. They have started Facebook groups, social media campaigns, and have created retailer “naughty lists” of those whose doors are open on this oh so sacred of secular holidays. I keep hearing an argument for the forlorn employees who would rather be Home with their families as opposed to working on such a day as this. The whole argument doesn’t make sense to me.

You may find this controversial if you are in the no-shop club, but it is not an issue to me for retailers to open their doors today. And I do not think they are wrong to ask their employees to work today. We have no entitlement to days off of work. We all make decisions that lead to consequences. If you have made the decision to work in the retail industry, you should not be surprised when you are asked to work on a holiday that makes up a large percentage of retail revenues for the year. If you do not want to work holidays, get a job in an industry that is closed on the holidays. Simple.

This is America. We all have freedoms.

I also find it odd that evil retailers are the only ones targeted for having people work on Thanksgiving. It seems to me people have forgotten, if you are a living person, you are also forcing people to work today even if you do not eat out or shop. We are a consumer nation and we consume more than what the mall offers.

Did you plan on watching a parade today? Then you are contributing to the need for cameramen, anchors, announcers, and layers of personnel to work hard to provide you with entertainment while you relax on your couch. Are you planning to watch that parade or maybe a ball game on your tv? Or turn on a lamp or stove? What if your electricity or cable went out? Would you call someone to fix the issue or respectfully wait till Friday to call an inform someone of your need so they can enjoy their family time?

What if your turkey fryer catches the house on fire? Would you let your house burn so the firemen could have an uninterrupted day with their family?

What if you were in labor? Would you cross your legs and say “no, no, not today… For today is Thanksgiving”?

How about the guards at your local prison? Should the guards go home for pumpkin pie and leave the inmates to contain themselves on their honor?

What about the farmers who raised the food you are eating? Farming is a24/7 kind of job. Livestock eat everyday, even Thanksgiving. And we certainly cannot forget our law enforcement and military who protect our freedom to stay home and eat our own turkey in safety while they stand guard for those freedoms.

In truth, unless you live with no public utilities, in a remote area, raising all your own food and livestock, you are requiring people to show up for work on thanksgiving. And if you are living off the grid, I would bet you are working today for what you have and not reading this post.

Some of us will need help today. We will need our community to continue functioning because not to do our part would lead to chaos.

Now I am not saying we should all go shop till we drop. To be completely honest, I have never been Black Friday shopping that I can remember. I try to avoid all stores other than the grocery store between Thanksgiving and the New Year. That is a personal decision. I like shopping to be fun not elbow to elbow retail warfare.

I just find this argument of not wanting retail and foodservice employees to be “forced” into work on Thanksgiving to be short sided. Thanksgiving is not an employment issue. It amazes me that in a land where all men and women are created equal, it is painfully obvious that not employment is given the same respect if being equally important. Is it ok for nurses and firemen to work because there jobs are galant, while a person who stocks shelves or washes dishes can be asked a different standard? I truly believe to not respect someone right to work and their employment is to disrespect and devalue that individual. Whatever your contribution to your community is, your job should be approached with the upmost enthusiasm. If you do not have enthusiasm, find a job that will give you joy or get a better attitude.

I am certain the wives and husbands of every cardiologist called away on the #1 day for heart attacks would much prefer their spouse by their side. But I do not see people up in arms about against high fat foods and overeating on behalf of the poor cardiologists.

For me, this argument boiled down to one societal ideal, value. And not the black Friday save 40% kind.

If you are called to do work for the community, we must endeavor to do it well. We must value our contributions and not feel inconsequential to the whole. My hopes the individuals called to work on Thanksgiving is that they give their best and see that they are an integral part of society, whatever their employment. In return, we should value those who are working today on our behalf and thanking them for their service.

What does it mean to make a statement like, “I won’t eat out on Thanksgiving because I don’t want the restaurant workers to have to leave their families to feed mine” ? Does that mean they needlessly work on the other days where they serve your dinner? Should they be at home with their families and friends then as well?

The problem with this mindset is thinking these “service” industry jobs are instead the “servant” industry. As if someone who is a food “servant” needs protection from the evil restaurant owners ruthlessly requiring them to work. Or is it that you respect the right for a waiter staff and cooks to need the day off for their families but doctors and nurses aren’t afforded the same respect. Where is the logic?

Stop to consider that many hourly employees would loose 20% of their income for the week if they did not work Thanksgiving day. I say if a person wants to work, let them work. If a retailer wants or needs to open it doors, there are enough people who would choose to work to make it happen. On the other hand, if your family does not want to shop or eat out, just don’t do it. No need to make a villain out of capitalism.

Just keep in mind, the issue of consumerism on Thanksgiving is not an employment issue, and our reactions to the matter should not be based on our personal views of employment standards. The retailers have not created the problem. They are providing what society has asked for. In my mind, it is not so much the question of whether we should or should not shop on Thanksgiving.

We instead should evaluate, why so many people would choose to spend their time in a crowded store buying more stuff in a day set aside to be thankful for what we already have.

So I think the better question is: what are you doing in your house to show all generations the value in sitting down to enjoy a meal together. Is the beauty of sharing a few hours in the name of gratitude for the past, present, and future obvious at your gathering? Or is everybody just stuffing their face and miserable the rest of the day?

This is a great time to evaluate what your personal standards for a day of gratitude are. And if you are called to work today, lift up your spirits and know that those who chose to work with a gleeful heart will be happier than those who do not.

Now I want to hear from you. Tell me what you think, where you shopped, where you worked, how you expressed joy, when you woke up today, set me straight, or anything else. One commenter on this blog post will be chosen at random to win a $25 visa gift card. A winner will be chosen on December 10.

About The Author

My passion is to help families find their way back to family time and have thriving businesses. To allow themselves to get caught up in the moment of playing in the leaves because they have the financial side of their lives under control. I pray that you find value in this information and that you lead rich and fulfilled lives. With Love and Coffee, Shanda

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4 Responses

  1. Carrie Reimer

    This is a complicated, multi-faceted issue. I’m not a Black Friday shopper myself, and we traditionally eat at home on Thanksgiving. I sympathize with the sentiment that retail and restaurant workers should be allowed this day off to be with their families (in contrast with other types of workers who are providing what are considered to be essential services), but I wonder how most of the workers feel. There are probably some who can’t afford to lose the wages and would rather work, but are there enough of them so that others can stay home if they want? (I think the majority of retail workers aspire to living-wage jobs with benefits, but I applaud them for doing what they have to do and at least attempting to provide for their families until they are able to better their circumstances.) Additionally, there is continued concern about the economy, but how many realize that opening on Thanksgiving may give the retail sector a needed boost during a shorter holiday shopping season this year?

    As far as restaurants are concerned, I can imagine a variety of scenarios where they are providing an important service by being open on Thanksgiving. A couple of examples: A single dad has his kids for Thanksgiving and doesn’t feel capable of preparing a traditional meal, so he takes them to a restaurant; or an elderly couple has limitations that make it difficult prepare the Thanksgiving feast anymore, so they go out to eat with friends who find themselves in a similar situation. Not everyone has family or friends nearby or able and available to swoop in and help out, so it’s good that people in that situation have some options to celebrate the holiday with a good meal.

    In the end, I’ve chosen not to pass too much judgement. I have the ability and desire to prepare a traditional meal, but I’m glad that those who do not have other alternatives – that could be me someday. I’m not much of a shopper at any time of year, but I have friends and relatives who are skilled bargain hunters and have made it a tradition to go shopping together at crazy hours of the morning on Black Friday. I’m happy for the time they are spending together as mother-daughter, sisters, or with friends and I respect their commitment to staying within their holiday shopping budget. I will marvel at the great deals they got (and appreciate the boost to the economy), but in my current stage of life I have no desire to join them. I even have one friend who joined a protest at a Wal-Mart with her husband and young sons on Black Friday. Although I personally didn’t feel called to do this, I applaud her for showing her sons that it’s important to respectfully express your opinion and demonstrate support for those who you believe are the victims of injustice.

    I don’t know what the “right” answer is on this issue, but I’m thankful for the freedom to act according to our beliefs and to let others do the same.

    • Shanda Kelly Smith

      Well said Carrie. The post/rant was inspired after I had seen at our own business, past and current employees asking to work on the holidays. Just this past week one prior employee who was working to pick up extra hours was thankful we allowed him to come back that week. Gratitude is what the holiday is all about, right? Our business is a 24/7 operation, and we have personally worked many holidays to allow those who would choose to be with their families time off. But hourly employees (vs salary) must work to get paid regardless of their wages. I did not think it was right to make these individuals that were stepping up to be part of their own solution for bettering their lives to feel they were wrong in making a choice to work. or to make villains out of the establishments who need to keep their doors open. And I was thankful, on Thanksgiving day when we stopped by a Winn-Dixie on the way home from the hospital visiting our great-grandfather that many people were happily working.

  2. Vondell Ashmore

    Well written and thought-out. My daughter, son-in-law and I had Thanksgiving dinner (actually breakfast & lunch) at the
    Holiday Inn buffet and enjoyed it very much, even though we overate and miserable until about 8:00 p.m. The wait-staff without
    exception were obviously enjoying serving their customers at this special time and wore great big smiles and were anxious to please.
    Perhaps they were thankful to have employment while so many others are out of work. I am personally thankful for hard-working
    folks who do a good job even on holidays such as Thanksgiving. As for Black Friday, I did not venture out to the stores because
    of the anticipated crowds. I prefer to shop at a more relaxed, leisurely pace and avoid crowds.

  3. Wendy

    I did mention to someone who was fussing about businesses being open on Thanksgiving that it’s interesting how nobody is opposed to police, doctors, firefighters, etc… working on the holidays.

    Like most other issues, each person will have to decide for themselves what’s right. I did not shop this past Friday, but I have in the past. Black Friday shopping has become a sporting event of sorts, and it’s disappointing to see people being so competitive over shopping.