I have been watching an interested phenomenon unfold over the last week or two. As things do on the internet, it was like a rock picking up speed downhill, and it collected more and more supporters as Thanksgiving Day approached. Along with support, it collected anger. Wasn’t that interesting for such a day?
To be honest, I found it somewhat disturbing overall. I understand the intent behind the movement. I agree with some of the sentiments that backed it. I have however a slightly different perspective to present about various aspects of the holiday and businesses, and I really hope that readers will just consider my words for a moment. Don’t dismiss it right here because you think I am opposing what you believe about it. Take a look at the issue from a different angle. Nobody needs to take this personally… it’s a collective observation of a lot of different people and conversations.
First, I agree that no one should be forced to work that wishes to spend time with their family. It is a national holiday, and should be recognized as such. I have to add here that I only say this because there are so few days during the year that people have the chance to take a holiday off for family, and I am sidestepping what the holiday is based on with regards to my own culture. That is another topic for another time. I also agree that Black Friday sales are idiotic, and worse when they open in the middle of the night or the night prior to that Friday. I refuse to participate in any of it, and my family stopped exchanging Christmas gifts a couple of years ago anyway.. because we really can’t afford it. That is not what is important about Christmas together. None of the sentiments expressed about workers being required to show up, at risk of losing their jobs or standing with their employer, are disagreeable to me in the least. I get that. There are however people that would prefer to work. I observed a number of rants about how people “should” take the day off, basically chastising anyone that would go to work by choice. Not everyone has the same traditions. Thanksgiving is not a requirement any more than any other holiday. That’s the bottom line.
There are also business owners that work alone or at least alone on holidays, and pray that they WILL get some business to cover operating costs. Operating costs do not cease just because you shut off the lights and lock the doors. Leases and rent cost, business licenses cost, utilities are still ticking off in some cases even when the business isn’t open. Those services don’t give a business owner free days, and for a small business that can be a really big deal. I realize most people were thinking of large corporation stores, but not many made that distinction in their venting. As the child of a lifetime self-employed blue collar man, I know what it means to need to take any work that comes your way in order to survive. My household is even now supported by that kind of an income, and I am incredibly thankful that work was NOT cut short during this holiday. It could easily have been and it was on the verge of happening. The way that things are right now, it would have sunk everything for me. Something wouldn’t get paid and bad things would have happened. It’s serious. No, there are no corners to cut. There is no “entertainment expenses” segment in the budget. There isn’t anything left for that. What do I cut? A utility? A medication? Insurance? So yes, I am glad there was work.
My family delayed the gathering until a weekend day when we are all free for it. It is just a day. My family has spent Christmas Eve, rather than Day together all my life. That left Christmas Day open for in-laws, extended family, and friends if there were other invites. We’ve been flexible as needed, and it has always worked for us. It is just a day and we can adjust. My Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, on Sunday, when we can ALL be there, and we are all just fine with that. I feel safe because I know the check that is coming is not going to put a knot of fear in my gut, and tears in my eyes over how I will keep everything afloat. That is what I am thankful for today.
I can remember when my parents ran a store in a very large local shopping mall that only closed for Christmas Day. We were fighting to get the last gift wraps done and people shooed away from the gate, even with it half down, on Christmas Eve so that we could go home and eat together. That was a more difficult time, but we still made it work. There was a man that ran a shop across from theirs, and he had no employees. He did not get to take days off, and he could not afford to hire employees. He was doing what he had to do in order to pay his bills. It may not be ideal, and it may bother some people, and it may legitimately even have negative impacts on one’s health. However… I was raised also with a good work ethic. When there is a need, you do what you are able to cover it. You never know if someone has an aging parent, or an ailing child with extra expenses stacking up to care for them. Who am I to judge? It’s really not my business why they want to go to work. IF it is THEIR choice, it’s their business.
I am not suggesting anyone run out and participate in the sales. I hate them myself (and again, I don’t even shop on “Black Friday”). Just consider developing a little sensitivity and tolerance for our differences, and our varying needs on this topic, and put some thought into how your words are being issued and perceived. It might be a little harsher than you realize to others that have to walk a different path.
There are a lot of people in this country right now that would be more thankful to find work to be at right now than anything in the world. On a day that is for most people immersed in excess, I sat at home along with a fruit and vegetable smoothie, happy that I have a warm bed and enough to eat. Not excess. Enough. Tomorrow, when there is more to eat, I will still exercise moderation and appreciate that I have that choice. I am thankful for a special gift from a dear friend that made this possible too. No matter which day of the week, I can also be thankful that I have living family to spend time with. So there is some food for thought… and hopefully for your soul.