Response: A helping of holiday creep

In the Chicago Tribune on November 10, 2013, there was an article on the front page of the Business section about how many businesses are opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving Day.  I think this is really sad, but unfortunately the “sanctity” of many holidays in the States are much less than they have been in previous years.

Even not so long ago, I could always count on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter to be the days when virtually every business was closed.  Maybe some gas stations, ethnic restaurants, or random other places remained open, but even staple places such as grocery stores were closed on these days.

Thanksgiving Day is one of my favorite days on the calendar, especially after I graduated from high school.  When I was at UNL, the dorms closed over the Thanksgiving weekend, which “forced” (i.e. allowed) me to go home for the weekend.  But, I love being around family, whether in Lincoln or elsewhere.  Now that I am at Northwestern, my family contact over Thanksgiving weekend is up in Milwaukee.

Retailers such as K-mart, Macy’s, Sears, and many others, that have traditionally been closed on Thanksgiving Day, will be open for at least part of the day.  It is a creep of Black Friday into Thanksgiving, and frankly, of Christmas further into November (because I have always associated Black Friday with the beginning of “Christmas season.”  But, I will save this rant for another time if I feel like it later.)

It doesn’t matter to me that חנוכה (Hanukkah) is during Thanksgiving or that the holiday shopping season is shorter this year.  It is still the principle of taking away from family time to do shopping that can theoretically be done at any time.  You may not be around your family for the entire year, but shopping for holiday stuff is being prioritized with this holiday creep.

I generally tend to have higher principles with regard to holidays.  For example, though I am not ordinarily שומר שבת (compliant with the rules of the Shabbat), when it comes time for the High Holidays, I become more observant in some sense.  With Thanksgiving, it is a sabbatical day for me as well.  Even if places start opening, my principles will refuse to go to them.  Family is too important to be sacrificed for commerce on such a day.  Plus, it is fun to help prepare the meal.  Peeling potatoes, hanging out in the kitchen, chatting with family, and yes, watching some football and basketball.  (The parade, however, is not really my thing.)

I understand the need for some events as mentioned in the article, like “turkey trots” or hunting events, because indeed there are a lot of dysfunctional families.  I am fine with non-commercial events, but they should also be events for which families are encouraged to attend.  I like von Maur’s policy: “We think holidays are there for a reason, so families can be home.”

Yes, some regular or temp employees in retail over the holidays may not have strong bonds with their family.  But, for those who do, I feel like the requirement to work over being with family could provide resentment for the employee, and when they have something like family on their mind, I have a feeling that their productivity will suffer on that day.  I know that when surrounded by family, my will to do productive work dwindles dramatically.

But, much like places opening on Sundays, it seems to be an irreversible component of the increasingly 24/7/365 world.  The best advice I can offer, much like the rest of my philosophy: Live and let live.  Even if you are opposed to retail on Thanksgiving, you can just vote by avoiding retail on that day.

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