I keep seeing how “outraged” people are that stores are opening ever-earlier on Thanksgiving day. Facebook and Twitter are full of posts demanding that retailers stay closed and calling boycott at every opportunity. That’s fine. Whatever helps you get your jollies.
One thing you can trust on is that stores like Macy’s and Kmart aren’t opening because their CEOs are philosophically opposed to Thanksgiving. They’re opening because there is growing consumer demand that they be open. If people didn’t want to start their shopping before the bird gets sliced, none of these stores would think anything of leaving their doors closed for the duration of the holiday.
Growing up in a rural, out of the way community I can remember a time when you were hard pressed to find a store of any kind open on Sunday. Later, most places had “limited” hours on Sundays, say noon-5:00 PM. Today, Sunday is just another day in retail. That’s not because the stores are evil, it’s because it’s what the consumer demanded. Despite what anyone thinks of its merits, culturally speaking Sunday isn’t generally considered a “day of rest” by anyone I know. It’s just the second half of a 48-hour weekend where we’re all trying to get done what we need or want to do.
I’m not sure why anyone thinks it would be any different with Thanksgiving. If you don’t want to be part of the crass commercialization, by all means stay home until 12:01 AM Friday morning. If you think you have a Constitutional right to observing a holiday on the day of the holiday itself, you might want to consider work that isn’t involved in a customer-service related field – oh, and don’t be a cop, or a nurse, or a soldier, or work for a power or water company, or, yes, in retail. I’ve had plenty of jobs where work rudely intruded on my days off, and while that sucks, sometimes it’s just plain unavoidable.
So maybe instead of railing against how “unfair” retailers are being, look around and see how many of your friends and family members are going to head to the stores before or after dinner on Thanksgiving Day. If the answer is more than “none,” go ahead and enjoy living in your glass house… and give it some thought next time you want to buy that discount mattress on President’s day or get the deal of a lifetime from the car dealer on Labor Day, or when you’re going to see a movie on a Sunday afternoon ensuring that some poor employee has to give up their Sabbath to sell you a ticket, make your popcorn, and fire up the projector on time.
Let’s be blunt for a moment: If you are legitimately thankful for your family and friends, does it make a tinker’s damn worth of difference whether you’re all sitting down for a turkey dinner at an appointed date and time or whether you nosh on eggs and bacon at the local diner at 3AM on any other random Thursday? I’m just having a tough time seeing the “so what” of all the commotion.