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Before You Post Something Derogatory About Shopping On Thanksgiving…

Let me tell you a few stories.

On Christmas Day, 1999, I was waking up alone. My 4-year old child was spending Christmas with his Dad and I was bored and bitter and jealous of my friend who worked at a breakfast place down the road because – at least she could make money on Christmas. I worked in a lab at my college so I was alone AND unable to work to make money. Our pitiful Christmas tree that year was filled with presents from the Dollar Store because we had also been closed over Thanksgiving break and my November paycheck was smaller than usual. Making extra money that time of year would have been perfect. I had another friend who had to work that day and was missing Christmas with her family and – while I felt bad for her because she was irritated about missing family time – she also joked that half of her friends had offered to wear wigs and pose as her that day, but only if they could keep the tips they made. It is important for both employers and employees to know how much they will be earning, especially around Christmas time. It might be worth introducing a different Payroll system so it is kept in an organised way to ensure that everyone knows how much they are earning. I think that it would be a great idea to do this.

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One of my last Christmases at home, where I was raised by a single Dad and had a brother, we were bored after the 30-minute Christmas present opening session. It was cold and rainy and we decided to drive around town to see if there was any place open for breakfast. We were thrilled to find a Denny’s that was open and we had a great meal there while with several elderly single customers. Dad tipped really well.

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I have only ever gone shopping on Black Friday once in my life. I hate shopping and I always avoid it. When I was out that day I noticed clans of women – usually a few generations – traveling in packs. I realized that the whole Black Friday thing was often about saving money, but mostly about a fun – often family – adventure for those people who liked shopping. I suddenly became jealous of all of those people.

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Points to Consider

  • There are a lot of minimum wage workers who have paychecks smaller than usual right around the holidays, just because the place where they work is closed and maybe they were shorted a shift. Big stores sometimes have an employee base where they can try to give off the people who want it off – and that large employee base usually yields some who want to work those days. So, yes…while many would like the day off to spend with their families…they don’t get paid for that day off like you do. They don’t get paid holidays. If their store/restaurant/etc is closed on a Holiday, they get to see their families, but they also have to hope they get an extra shift elsewhere in the week to make up for it on their paycheck. A store the chooses to close on a holiday will make some people who don’t depend on that paycheck happy, but it will also make some people who depend on that paycheck sad. It’s not a blanket “GREAT FOR EVERYONE!” type of situation when a store is closed on/around a holiday.
  • There are a LOT of non-traditional families around you. Single people who don’t have family, or can’t afford to travel to see family for a one-day holiday. Those people sit at home all day and can’t even run out for an I’m Bored trip to the store because everything is closed. And the reminder of everything that is closed is also a reminder that they’re alone or different from the rest of their community. They aren’t trying to crap on their family by shopping at Target, they’re trying to just have a normal day since it’s just Thursday in their world.
  • A lot of those crazy people who get out to bargain shop? Are doing it in groups with friends and/or family. They aren’t ditching their family at the dinner table to buy a gaming console, they’re enjoying some fun after a day of feeding their family. Or maybe it’s their escape/therapy. There are a lot of sisters and mothers/daughters or best friends heading out for a fun trip together. It’s not always some lone crazy woman leaving a family of 6 starving to death at home while she beats back other shoppers for a good deal on a tablet.
  • Movie Theaters are open on Christmas so families can go see movies together. I know dozens of families who love seeing movies with their family Christmas evening. Why is that an okay holiday outing where it’s okay to ask people to work their job at the theater? I think groups going shopping together are probably actually talking to each other, which is usually a more fruitful family outing than quietly watching a movie. If you don’t judge people who see movies on Christmas, then I don’t see how you can judge people who shop on Thanksgiving.

In Summary – If you have a job that is paying you for your Thanksgiving Holiday: Be Thankful. If you have a family and are enjoying their company all day and would have no desire to leave them to shop on Thanksgiving? Be Thankful. If you think those crazy Christmas shopping crowds are terrifying and therefore do all of your shopping online to avoid them? Be Thankful. And if you have to go to Target or some store on Thanksgiving – or ANY day for that matter – remember there’s always a chance the person helping you is missing something – Thanksgiving Dinner, a soccer game, a parent/teacher conference – to do the job you’re watching them do. So, make sure you treat them with kindness and respect. And just Be Thankful that you live a lifestyle where you have the family and the resources to be snarky about people shopping on Thanksgiving.

I mean – If you don’t want to shop, don’t! (Lord knows I do NOT want to shop ever, much less on a crazy sale day.) But just be careful being too judgmental about people who do, or assuming that everyone doesn’t want to work on Thanksgiving. Time-and-a-half pay for one shift a month before Christmas? Is what some minimum-wage workers use to put presents under their tree. It’s not a bad thing making that available to them.

Author’s Note – I will NOT be shopping on Thanksgiving unless I forget a key ingredient in which case I will go and hate every minute of it because I just hate shopping on ANY day. I think all of you Deal Hunters are insane. No matter when you’re doing your shopping.

Edited to Add – I had to close comments on this. I’m just a wee blogger who has a few blog friends who sometimes read and comment here and I guess they all liked this post and shared it out and I was really proud/excited for the increase in traffic until some people came in and – instead of politely joining the discussion – they got a little snarky and mean with my longtime blog readers/friends and I just can’t allow that. This blog is usually quite boring and we can’t handle that sort of excitement around here. The point of this article was simple: Don’t Judge or Assume Everyone Is Like You. It was NOT to say “YAY FOR CONSUMERISM AND STORES OPENING ON HOLIDAYS!” And since a few people tried to meanly argue against that point because they imagined that was what I was trying to say, I’m turning off the comments to protect my smart and kind friends who have begun discussions here like usual. Also, to protect my feelings. Because I’m a fragile little flower who is kinda scared of the internet.

If you had something nice to say? Thank you. And I’m sorry some of the meaner people kept you from being able to join in the conversation.

38 thoughts on “Before You Post Something Derogatory About Shopping On Thanksgiving…”

  1. I never would have really thought about all the points you make. You are right though, we have a standing tradition to go see a movie on Thanksgiving day and it’s always a family affair. If we do go out on black friday it is also a family affair and always a lot of fun. I’m fortunate enough to have a salaried job and get paid for holidays and time off but as a single mom who still lives paycheck to paycheck not having a full paycheck this time of year would be devastating.

  2. As usual, you have pointed out some great truths. If only those folks who really wanted to work on Thanksgiving/Christmas/pick your holiday were the only ones who had to work those days. This is where the problem lies, I think. Some folks who would rather stay home and not shop/not work feel in danger of losing their jobs if they do not work. It seems impossible to keep everyone happy in this situation.

    I know I posted one of those “anti” links and I had to go back to see if it was mean spirited or attacking. Thankfully, I don’t think it was. It was more of a plea against consumerism.

    There really are 2 (maybe even more) sides to this situation. There is the employer, who stands to make/lose money depending on their choice. There is the employee, who may be a willing or unwilling participant in the holiday shopping. And there is the consumer… for whom shopping on a holiday may be a good thing or a bad thing. I guess bottom line is there is no way to please everyone in this. We just have to agree to be nice. 😀 Hey, I think you’ve said something like that before!

  3. My mother in law worked for years at Macy’s in the fragrance department and even though the retail world has it shortcomings (MANY SHORTCOMINGS) Black Friday and Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas were always HUGE DAYS in terms of commission. Working those days could equal several days (weeks, even) of pay in the off-season.

    So even though it was a huge inconvenience TO ME to have her work those days, it was important. Those inconvenient days are important to lots of people.

  4. Yeah – There are definitely major CONS to the whole shopping-on-a-holiday thing especially relating to consumerism. I guess my motivation was mainly from the other side just to remind people that the magazine cover Thanksgiving with the family at the table and the adults getting paid on their day off, is not the “Thanksgiving” many people enjoy so to try not to be too hard on those who want to work/shop on those days. 🙂

  5. YES! And my friend got time AND A HALF for working on Thanksgiving or Christmas. So, her paychecks were BIGGER. I WAS SO JEALOUS. 🙂

  6. Thank you for this post!! It really stopped me in my tracks even though I’m Canadian and our Thanksgiving is long over (and since it’s 2.5 months before Christmas, shopping isn’t a thing in the same way).

    I’m lucky enough now in my life that I have a good paying job but that was not always the case and a reminder about what it’s like to live in a more precarious financial situation is always helpful for keeping things in perspective.

    Also, I lived in the U.S. for 5 years for work and I lived too far away from my partner and my family to travel for short holidays. I came home every summer for a couple of weeks but spent Thanksgiving and Christmas on my own. I had fun with it– I would stock up on books and cook something tasty for one– but I was appalled and depressed by people’s reactions to my plans. They were horrified that I was spending the holidays alone. There was zero understanding that not everyone’s life worked the way theirs did. Their reactions were always far more upsetting than the simple fact that I was spending the day alone.

    Anyway, I’m no longer poor and I am living in the same home as my partner and we host Thanksgiving dinners for assorted friends and have our own Christmas traditions and it is awesome and I appreciate your reminder to be grateful for it all more than I can even say.

  7. I came *this* close to posting this on FB, and then thought better of it because I didn’t want to get in any arguments. But, for what it’s worth, ditto. All of those anti-shopping posts have been making me quietly fume. There have *always* been people who have to work on holidays and those people have, quite often, been not very well-paid. In a perfect world probably all of them would rather not be working, but this isn’t that world and an extra shift is nothing to sneeze at.

    Why is it corporate greed for Walmart to be open and running on the backs of low-wage workers but not Cracker Barrel or Regal Cinemas or Holiday Inn or United Airways or your local gas station? Is it because those latter businesses are necessary? Because they make *your* holiday with family fun and easy and possible? I mean, it is corporate greed. But it’s also because there’s a demand. And that demand may not be you, but it’s there and it’s real, and like all demands it’s a little bit selfish, but that doesn’t mean it’s crude or evil. If someone want to draw a line in the sand at shopping on holidays, that’s cool. But I hope everyone recognizes all the things on the other side of that line and really thinks about if they’re drawing it there not because they stand with low-wage workers, but because that’s the easiest place, the place that won’t hurt them, to draw it.

  8. Nice to hear another perspective. I’ve been uncomfortable with the unaltered not to shop badge you used and altered because it felt so black and white and judgy (and things are rarely that simple). I used to work every holiday when I was in my 20’s. I liked the money but that wasn’t why. I worked in a 24/7 women’s shelter. And my co-workers had children and spouses. I was single with no kids. I figured what harm did it do for me to sleep at the shelter on Christmas Eve so that others could be home when their children wake up. Plus (BONUS!) I got to play Santa for like 5 years in a row and fill stockings for kids who didn’t normally get gifts. Best thing ever.

  9. My family worked in healthcare for years and Thanksgiving, Christmas, Fourth of July were all just an ordinary workday for us. We got in the habit of doing holidays when it made sense for most of us, not necessarily on the specific day. For us as kids it was just normal. We didn’t think we were getting gypped out of Christmas because we opened presents on the 22nd or the 28th of December. It was our normal. As my grandmother used to say, “Kindness covers all kinds of situations. Remember that dear.”

  10. I’ve been a long-time reader and I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented, but I LOVE this. Most of it doesn’t apply directly to me, but I’ve worked in retail and had family that have had to work odd hours, including many holidays, due to their line of work. I don’t get the hatred about stores being open on Thanksgiving or ANY day they decide to operate.

  11. What sucks is smaller department stores like Kmart, where I worked last year. They don’t have a large enough employee base to let any significant amount of people off, and no one wanted to work. General retailers like Kmart and target do not pay time and a half in my experience (I’ve worked for both.)

    Personally I think stores should close unless enough employees volunteer to work.

    I like Black Friday shopping. I love a good deal. But only on Black Friday.

  12. As someone who works at a grocery store, and not that I’ve been particularly judgmental, it’s nice to see a different perspective. The only thing I really judge is the outrage over Target and Best Buy being open on Thanksgiving, yet none at all over grocery stores! (or like you said, the movies!)
    Anyway, my biggest, HUGE annoyance is the way the general public (general, not all!) treats customer service employees like crap during the holidays. I don’t get time and a half and I certainly do NOT have a choice whether or not I get to work (like, at all. No one has off. There’s no pool or a list or anything, you either come in or get penalized for calling out.) so I might be bummed for working, and it DOES make it harder when people are talking down to me and yelling at me.
    I’d never judge them for coming out, because the store is open! They have every right to be there. I just wish people could be more patient when we are busier, and understand that I’m more willing to help customers who are calm and respectful. Which was one of your main points!

  13. People get CRAZY around the holidays. It’s insane. I’ve always said there’s three jobs you couldn’t pay me enough to take 1) Elementary school teacher the day after Halloween 2) Law enforcement on New Year’s Eve or 3) Retail during the Holidays. NO WAY. NOT ON MY LIFE.

  14. Thank you. I agree and posted something similar. It is rough to have the whole Internet judging choices.

  15. I just read yours – this is my favorite part: “Really? Think about that again. Realize that not every family is YOUR family. Remember that some people just try to get through the day without mind-numbing depression, just plain blahs, or thinking too hard about the things they might have done.”

    That’s what bugs me, the attitude that all families and all holidays look like magazine covers…they don’t. Most of them don’t, as a matter of fact. *sigh*

  16. Damn, you rock so hard. You said this so much more eloquently than I could. My version usually involves a lot of incoherent ranting about Big Business not paying holidays and not paying workers a living wage and people needing to work and needing to shop at discounts and pointing fingers of blame at one another instead of the gazillionaires at the top raking in more money than they can even use while we fight with one another. Welcome to my brain! It’s one giant run-on sentence of crazy!

    Anyway. You kick ass and I’m SHARING THIS EVERYWHERE. Love ya, lady.

  17. We are going to a football game this year on Thanksgiving. And we always watch football on Thanksgiving. I haven’t seen anyone complain that the football players don’t get to spend time with their families. Not to mention the people who have to work at the stadiums. There are so very many different situations and people and families that it seems ridiculous to pick one scenario and get all judgy about it.

  18. YES! Hotels! I hadn’t even thought of those, and they’re not making millions checking our families in when they come visit us. They’re low-wage too…and leaving their families to greet ours. EXCELLENT point.

  19. I just looked. There are COLLEGE games on Thanksgiving. Those players don’t even get paid! *sigh*

  20. You have got that right. And I am astounded by the judgey people who the rest of the year post all sorts of things that are basically “Keep your laws, beliefs, and ideas off MY family.” It is a weird double standard.

  21. ACK! I just realized my last comment sounded judgemental (grin) – I just meant – why aren’t these people angry about that? Why target only…well…Target? 😉

  22. Someone else pointed out this perspective to me on Twitter recently, and it’s one that I hadn’t much considered. It’s a good point, and while for us, it just isn’t in the plans to shop on Thanksgiving, I don’t begrudge those who do, and I don’t plan to say anything else about my personal feelings about it. Because I realize I was kind of a privileged jerk saying something in the first place, and because my husband has a salaried job and receives the same paycheck ten months out of the year, regardless of the number of days worked. (Teacher, yo.) So we can’t relate, don’t have a dog in this fight, and should just STFU.

    It is really unfortunate that this matters, that families have to make the choice between spending the holiday together and making ends meet, but that is a much larger problem.

  23. I’m not sure why the original badge seems derogatory. I posted it, and I don’t care what my Facebook family/friends think about it. It’s my Facebook, and *I* am not going to shop on Thanksgiving for the reason on the badge. Why must I be politically correct on choosing not to shop on Thanksgiving?

    I realize that people like to work it for the extra money or need to work that day for whatever reason. However, I do know that the extra money that I made working that day is long gone, but the memories that I’ve had on the holiday with my friends/family, those will stay forever. And maybe if people felt connected, the same way you describe about the Black Friday shopping adventure (which I’ve had a bunch of those myself but *on* Black Friday, not Black Friday Eve!), people wouldn’t be so hesitant to enjoy the holiday for what our ancestors wanted, a day of giving thanks. And people don’t have to shop if they’re alone, depressed, etc.: they can visit a soup kitchen, they can take a walk in the neighborhood, they can visit another neighbor who may not have any visitors, they can visit an animal shelter and spend some time with the animals, etc. What better way to give thanks for all that we have–much of which we don’t even realize–than to help another in need?

  24. Another thing to take into consideration is people who don’t celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas for religious or cultural reasons.

  25. I think you make some great points, however, there is one thing that I have to disagree with. The part about big companies having a lot of employees who would volunteer to work. Places like Wal-Mart do not give their employees the choice. You can NOT request it off and you HAVE to work the holidays.

  26. I think my main point was only to not judge anyone, since we don’t know their stories. Or that I should not assume everyone makes decisions with the same pro/can values I do. Not really trying to argue whether or not places should be open (I stay at home on Thanksgiving and enjoy my family!) just saying let’s not judge people on any side if they disagree with us. 🙂

    Except – of course – for my child who has declared a hatred of Pie. WHO HATES PIE? 🙂

  27. I didn’t mean to make that a blanket statement and I’ll correct it – but my local friend who works at a chain grocery story got Thanksgiving off when she requested and and several co-workers actually asked to work on Thanksgiving for the time-and-a-half 🙂 I was thinking more about that one incident, I will clarify.

  28. Okay – I edited it a bit to clarify. Maybe the stores in our community are just luckier – so I clarified the statement to represent my friends HERE. I’ll make sure to tell them how lucky they are 🙂

  29. I grew with a dad who worked in the health care industry at a hospital. Hospitals never close so he always had to work either Thanksgiving or Christmas. (They would alternate which holiday they got off each year.) Other holidays, such as 4th of July, Labor Day or Memorial Day, were also normal working days for them. So I got used to holidays not being as much about relaxing with family since Daddy always had to work as it was just a normal day that happened to be a holiday. We would open presents at 4 AM based on what shift he was working or wait to eat Thanksgiving dinner in the evening since he would be home by then. I also can recall many an occasion where we loaded up my whole family to eat at the employee cafeteria at the hospital so we could have a meal as a family. Truthfully, I never thought much of it because this was always how it was in my world.

    Fast forward to current day, my dad still works at the hospital and now I am married to someone in law enforcement who, you guessed it, doesn’t get most holidays off. I understand my mom more now because I am the one trying to keep small children entertained while my husband is at work or sleeping to prepare for his overnight shift because any given holiday is just another day that daddy works. So I would love a way to get out of the house and have something to do with my children so we won’t all be stuck at home bored watching the same Christmas movies 30 times in one day.

  30. I just wanted to say thanks for posting this. It’s something that I forget sometimes, even though I have friends who were far away from family, or who didn’t want to see their family for whatever reason, or just plain needed the money, so they wanted to work the holidays so that they weren’t home alone. Or so they could pay rent that month. Or go home after the holidays to visit family. And even though there was a time when WE needed the money and I chose to work holidays so we could buy presents for our family members, it’s easy to forget those times. It’s also easy to forget that there are people who are alone on the holidays and probably want to go out and do something.

  31. my little brother is a fire fighter/EMT. His first year he ended up working every major holiday. He is lucky that his family is able to come up to the fire house and see him if he’s not on a run but it’s not the same as being at home with his daughter on Christmas morning.
    I’ve worked retail during the holidays but it was before Black Friday became the big deal that it is now. I remember working very long days and dealing with grumpy shoppers. I was in management so I got a salary and even though I would work 60-70 hours a week, I still got my 40 hour a week salary. I always try to be extra nice to the people working in stores because I have been there and I know how hard it is.

  32. *applause* YES. For awhile, I worked as an activities aide in a nursing home. If you worked at some point in the day on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, they would pay you triple time both days. You’d best believe I signed up every year.

    I have a micofamily right now, and its destined to get smaller in a few years time. Sometimes, just going out of the house and being near people is the difference between “everyone has a family but me” and “I exchanged social pleasantries with the nice people in the store, yaaaay happy holidays to aaaaaall!”.

  33. I haven’t read all the comments yet. (I WILL!) But I do want to say that I was the person who loved working Thanksgiving Day as well as Christmas. I would spend several hours with my family either in the morning and then head to work, or I would work all night the night before (it was an all-night diner) and then sleep and then spend some time with my family.

    My brother, who worked at the same diner, did the same thing. We often tried to work together, though that didn’t always happen.

    I actually signed up to work those days because I not only did I make a small fortune, but I actually truly enjoyed waiting on people who were otherwise, for whatever the reason may be, alone on those days. We usually had special dinners made up on those days, and for dirt cheap. And the people who came in looked forward to having a warm place to go, where they wouldn’t be alone. And we would talk to them, make them feel welcome and less lonely.

    Granted, it wasn’t only “lonely” people. We also got families who didn’t want to cook or just wanted to get out of the house for a while (see folks other than family!) We actually saw a decent turnout. And I didn’t mind working. I got to spend a few hours here and there with my family and then shuffle off to make someone else happier.

    Now that I have a family of my own, I am not sure how I would feel. I know many extended family members who have had to work on those days. Some are on call, some have to go in. They just saw it as a way of life. They did usually get time and a half, and never much complained about it. One aunt worked for JC Penny. An uncle works as a security guard. One cousin works for Verizon and is always on call and has had to report on Thanksgiving at least once.

    I almost married a chef. He worked at a five star restaurant. Had I married him, and even while dating him, I never saw him on Christmas eve, night or Thanksgiving. It was just the way of life. He didn’t complain either. We made due, so did his family.

    I don’t know. I agree with you, Miss Zoot. But I come from a background of restaurant and bar, so those are usually our busiest days. I just got used to it. That’s not to say that I don’t feel bad for all those who HAVE to work and really, really don’t want to. And I reckon some folks get an ultimatum—work or lose your job. But others I imagine do it for the extra cash.

    Anyway, food for thought! Thank you! And you’re kind of making me miss those all-night diner days. I truly cherished that time as silly as it might read. I truly believe we made people who would otherwise have eaten leftovers by themselves feel a lot less lonely. And that, for me, was worth an extra thousand bucks right there. :]

  34. I had to share this one, because you are right. People can’t walk around assuming their cultural or family “norms” are the same for everyone. People say that the store are pushing us to earlier (and therefore, hopefully) more Christmas spending, and maybe (probably) they are trying to do that. But, they are also responding to a perceived need – they are open on Thanksgiving because people ARE shopping then. Last time I checked, no one is forcing me to go or to hurry up and shop, then shop some more. Money talks, and we are each in charge of our own purchasing power.

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