“The great danger for family life, in the midst of any society whose idols are pleasure, comfort, and independence, lies in the fact that people close their hearts and become selfish.” Pope John Paul II
One of the most common things we are encountering today is, according to most any news source, the disintegration of the familial unit. This is not about hetero- versus homosexual, traditional family versus single parent. This is about the degradation of the core ideal of family, and of a holiday meant to bring a family closer together and celebrate how strangers helped save colonists. This about the decay of Thanksgiving.
First, some history. Sarah Hale was a woman born in New England in the very late Eighteenth century. She is credited with writing the poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and a seventeen year letter campaign to a total of five Presidents of the United States to establish the National Holiday of Thanksgiving. Her noted worry was that the industrialization of the nation was causing the destruction of the family as a concept, and she felt that a National Holiday celebrating all the things that people should be thankful for would do the trick. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln also saw it as a balm to help salve the wounds of the ongoing Civil War, and signed into existence Thanksgiving as said National Holiday. This means that as of last year, Thanksgiving was in existence as a Holiday for 150 years.
Before I fully launch into this, I want to say one more thing: I wish there was a way for everyone to have this day off. I realize that the nature of some things, such as emergency services for police, ambulances, hospitals, and the like forbid the idea of getting the day off. And I am sorry. But this isn’t about an essential service. This is about greed.
Macy’s has announced that this year they would open at 6pm on Thanksgiving Day for Holiday shopping. This has, in turn, prompted competing stores like J.C. Penney, BonTon, Sears, and the like to open then as well. I want that to sink in for a moment. They are opening at 6pm, the dinner hour for most families celebrating Thanksgiving. They are taking the whole idea of the holiday, being thankful for what you already have, and turning it into a chance to engage in absolute avarice and greed, and lust after things you want. And understand, if these stores are the anchors in a mall, such as the one I work in, it usually triggers a clause in leases that force other, smaller stores to open at the same time.
Let’s get something clear here: I would be just as angry about this were I not a retail worker. I would, because this is a sign of just what is happening as the years roll by. That our greed as consumers, because it is just as much our fault as it is the companies, is driving us to completely assault the ideas of this holiday meant to bring family together, and turn it into a chance to drive wedges between us as we all go separate directions during that dinner hour to shop. Most all of you that are reading this have families. I want you to think about what this means.
Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday, so this is not about one group being excluded because of their religion. This is not what happens to Jews and Muslims during Christmas. This is not even about those without families, because friends often invite you over to join in dinner and Thanksgiving with them. This is out and out about denying what the true meaning of this holiday is about in an effort to do things: sell a bunch of merchandise and make money. As the opening quote spoke, understand what this means, what it portends, and what it heralds.
I am very lucky in that I have a coworker and store manager that has volunteered to work the necessary 4pm to 6am shift to open the store and ride it through the initial run. This is a man that has a wife and kids, and has every right to not do what he is doing. I have offered to work it for him, and I might still for all I know, but it’s utter ridiculousness that we have to do this at all in this manner.
And we all know that even those store managers for the bigger stores, who have been told by their corporate overlords that they must, must open at 6pm on Thanksgiving are sacrificing the same thing. They don’t get to be at home with their families, enjoying the turkey, stuffing, gravy, and pie that they should be eating with the warm and satisfying glow of knowing that their loved ones are around them. The hourly workers that have to punch a clock are being dragged away from their tables to slog through an absolutely bullshit night instead of being at home.
Again, I wish there was a way for those people in what are considered essential services to be home at the same time. I do. I am not going to pull some bullshit line about “you chose the career.” That’s crap. Sometimes you don’t have much of a choice. But this is about a very non-essential service being forced into greed-driven acquiescence to the commands of those who don’t have to get their asses out of their homes that night and work. The corporate overlords don’t have to leave their family behind and come deal with masses of greedy, grabby masses out to save pennies on the dollar. They don’t have to be screamed at, or cried at, or clean up the horrendous messes left behind by the tide of humanity.
If you have a heart, a soul, or even just compassion and regard for your fellow humans who are being strong-armed into going out to work on Thanksgiving, don’t shop. Don’t even buy a gallon of gasoline. They will only keep opening up during these deplorable hours as long as people come to shop. You may not have to work it, but have some empathy. “Well, let them find a different job, then.” Don’t say this, because it’s horrendously dehumanizing. Many of the people that work in this industry don’t necessarily do so because that’s all they want to do with their lives. Have some compassion.
Don’t shop on Thanksgiving. Please.