Monday, November 12, 2012

Thursday is the new Black. Come again?

And now I must rant.

I love the holidays.  I am totally and completely psyched for Thanksgiving.  I already know what I'm wearing to both family celebrations to accommodate my growing girth based on the respective menus.  My siblings and I have coordinated wine selections.  My in-laws have decided on proper cocktails (as we have several who are allergic-tragically-to wine and beer).  Post-Thanksgiving I am ready to deck the halls and trim our house to its rafters with Christmas cheer.  I am formulating gift ideas already.  I have a schedule for the holidays laid out, down to grocery shopping dates and when I can cook and freeze items for celebrations. 

This girl is ready.

Then this morning, as I was readying myself to work, the crew on my favorite morning news show was talking about various retailers moving black Friday shopping to Thursday.  Come again?  Thursday? As in the Thanksgiving holiday? The day we all gather together and are thankful and full of food and family? Now we must depart from our celebrations early and shop? Oooooohhhhh am I ever mad. Angry doesn't even encompass how I feel about this. 

At first I was angry about the retailers cutting into family time.  Is nothing sacred? Must we have our meals early? Make Thanksgiving breakfast so the shopping can commence? Will it come to that? (I'm sure it will) I have visions of families across the country having their delicious meals, then eyes shifting and legs dancing under the tables as individuals become anxious to leave.  Food barely digested.  Drinks barely finished.  Pumpkin pie untouched.  This is not what the day is meant to be.

Then I really started to think about it.  I used to work in retail as a college student and young teacher.  I remember how early I had to report to work on black Friday and the day after Christmas.  It was freezing cold and dark.  And that was ages ago before people hit the stores before midnight.  Now retailers are asking their employees to work ON Thanksgiving.  And if the stores are opening at say, 7:00pm, the employees are having to arrive hours earlier to ready the establishment, therefore cutting short their day off entirely.  And don't tell me this is a choice.  For the vast majority of these employees, this job is their only source of income, and the employer demands all hands on deck for black Friday (Thursday).  If you aren't there, you are without employment. 

I have heard all the arguments-that those working should be happy they have a job.  That others have to work on holidays (specifically health care workers, military, etc).  That if you chose to work retail this is part of the gig.  Yet I believe there are arguments to each point.  While anyone who is working should be happy to do so, it should not be at the cost of family and happiness.  Work is not the be all and end all.  Nor does having a job and being an employee constitute slave labor/beck and call.  Others do work on holidays, typically in jobs that don't answer to hours.  Please don't equate our consumerism to lifegiving professions like nursing or lifesaving/guarding professions like what my stepson-in-law is doing with the US Navy.  And while many do choose to work retail for a variety of reasons, some are working these jobs because there are no others to be found.  They have become trapped into part-time labor positions that lead nowhere.  So they don't have a choice.

It really boils down to a few simple things.  We have gotten greedy.  On both sides.  We want to make money as fast as we can, and as much as we can.  We also want to spend it on items we won't even remember come next holiday season.  I don't believe money is evil.  However, I see the greed eating away at so much.  I try to enjoy the season to the fullest.  I want time with my family.  Time to enjoy their personalities that make me laugh.  Time to fill their bellies with food I love to cook.  Time to curl up on the couch with my dearest husband while the fire glows and the lights twinkle.  I want to seek and find gifts that make me smile when I think of the person they will make a home with.  Even if the gift isn't a 55 inch flat-screen television bought at midnight on black Friday at rock-bottom prices.  Even if it is something small that was made in my kitchen.  I made it (or found it) with thoughtfulness and love.  And gave it with the same emotions.

I think it is time to re-assess.  Think about the holidays and what they mean to you and yours.  I'm not going down the religion path here.  Just the idea that this time of year needs to be reigned in a little bit.  Be kind to one another.  Reach out to those you care for, and those you may not know who are struggling and in need.  Make a commitment to do so throughout the year.  And on Thanksgiving, stay home with your family so others may do the same.