Just to be clear, I have no trouble with giving thanks. I do hate the “holiday” called Thanksgiving, however, and I hate it a little more each year. This year in particular, with the fairly constant complaining about the possibility of retailers opening on Thanksgiving day, my hate has grown.
I get frustrated when I encounter flagrant hypocrisy.
I just saw one of those easily produced pieces of internet propaganda–a square with some vague image behind large pithy text–complaining about people having to reschedule their Thanksgiving because a family member worked in retail.
Presumably, all of those retail workers should be free to sit in their warm safe homes, watching football and parades while chatting on the phone with any absent family members. Naturally, the people at the utility companies, the police and fire fighters and doctors and nurses, the people in jobs we overlook (like gas station attendants), the television workers both onscreen and off, and all of the athletes both professional and amateur, all of those people are actually at home too, right? Are they enjoying their own holidays with their own families? (Or do they not count?)
How about if we want to complain about retail stores being open on Thanksgiving, we spend Thanksgiving avoiding all of the other activities that require people to work, including fairly passive activities like living in complex civilization. (Or did we imagine that it maintains itself?) While we’re congratulating ourselves that we want to save retail employees from the ignominy of a spoiled holiday, there are people all around us who are working to make our precious holiday possible, and nobody is clamoring for them to get that time off.
In fact, if they took the time, we’d probably yell at them. Even something non-essential, like cable or satellite television, if it failed I suspect that most people wouldn’t respond by saying, “I’m happy that no one is working right now to fix this.”
We, the Thanksgiving People, all just expect that some other people are going to work so that the rest of us can live in a fantasy-land of comfortable and idealized gluttony. When retailers talk about opening their doors on Thanksgiving, they’re not really doing anything new. They’re just giving us what we’ve already shown them we want. They’re treating us like the people we’ve already shown them we are.
That’s why protesting retailers isn’t going to help. They’re not the problem. We are.