A couple of years ago, I wrote this post covering just a few of the things for which we should not be thankful for on Thanksgiving. Here we are two years on, and there are still a large number of things not to be thankful for and the list does seem to get a bit larger all the time. Retail stores are opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day, no longer content with opening in the early AM hours of the day after Thanksgiving. My guess is we might see a move to ban Thanksgiving retail store openings in the next few years, following Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Of course, we all know that such a move will be opposed by the Chamber of Commerce and other representatives of the retail industry.
Time Magazine has this story about Thanksgiving shopping:
This year, stores including Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Toys “R” Us, will open their doors just after the sun goes down on Thanksgiving, betting that consumers will be done with dinner and ready to cross some gifts off their shopping lists. Meanwhile, Nordstrom, Costco, BJ’s Wholesale Club and others have put out statements saying they will remain closed, as they always have, out of respect for the holiday and for employees who want to spend it with their families.So even though opening on Thanksgiving Day seems to be a zero sum game, it will continue and grow because everyone is doing it.
But is either camp really coming out ahead? It’s a wash, Wharton experts say, while predicting that as an increasing number of retailers decides to add Thanksgiving hours, it is only a matter of time before almost everyone joins in. “[Opening earlier and earlier] is not going to lead to more retail sales, and there is not much of a competitive advantage,” notes Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch. “At the same time, there is no benefit to not opening on Thursday; the higher moral ground really doesn’t matter.”
Now one of the realities of life is, there have always been groups of people who have to work on any holiday. There are restaurants that advertise their Thanksgiving Day specials. Servers, cooks, clean up staff all working to serve those who for whatever reason are not cooking for themselves or their families. I know I have eaten out on Thanksgiving and Christmas a couple of times over the years so I can't claim any moral superiority in this. Of course, emergency service personnel, hospitals, police, and firefighters all work. Many newspapers around the country will not have a Thanksgiving edition on Thursday morning but the reporters and editors will be on the job Thursday evening so that the paper will be available first thing Friday morning as usual.
Folks who have read my posts over the year know that my life has not always traveled an easy path yet I do have quite a bit to be thankful for, even with all the bad. Just this past July, I wrote that I was Homeless and within a day, I had an offer of a room for Dan'l and myself. I also received an offer from a couple of friends and former co-workers if I could reach them in upstate NY. I have family and friends who are almost always willing to offer various levels of support to help bridge the bad times.
I see reports in the news about how people see a story on the news or hear about someone whose live has been devastated through illness, loss of jobs, accidents, fire or whatever then people take a collection or crowd fund some support and wind up raising thousands of dollars to help. Seeing those stories and knowing how I have been helped will always move me. Even as we read about how a WalMart store in Cleveland has set up an internal food drive for employees to help other employees, it brings mixed emotions. I am sure the WalMart employees will contribute to help their fellow workers so in that sense, the food drive will succeed. Yet I have to question how things reach this case where working people do not make enough to support themselves in the holidays. I wind up with a sense of mixed emotions similar to how I feel watching a TV show like Undercover Boss - bravo I guess for doing something but where's the responsibility that leads to this having to be done in the first place?
As we sit down to our various Thanksgiving Day feasts across the country, please do give thanks for the plenty that we experience. But please also keep in mind the folks around the country and around the globe, struggling for food, for shelter, for clean water and clean air. We only have the one earth available to us and there is no Plan B available.
And because I can: