Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving is NOT Dead

Norman Rockwell's "Freedom from Want"
By Kevin Hunsperger 
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since I'm a journalist, I typically do not voice my opinion on things happening the news.  I avoid topics like politics, religion, and anything else that might be considered controversial.  Of the now 1,031 posts on this blog, about  90% of them are about wrestling.  But after weeks of letting this fester, I think now is the time to share with the world.

I saw a post on Facebook recently that became the straw that broke the camel's back.  In short, it suggested that because Black Friday shopping has seeped into Thanksgiving, that the holiday is dead or at least dying.  I disagree for a number of reasons, and if you're in the retail business and reading this, I apologize if my words offend you.

I have worked every Thanksgiving since 2003.  Thursday will mark my 11th consecutive Thanksgiving at work.  I'm not saying that to complain, but rather to let you know where I'm coming from as I write this post.  While I'm at it, I have worked more Christmases than I've been off in my years in TV news too.  It's something that comes with the territory.

Black Friday madness
Other comments I've seen on social media suggests that we shouldn't shop on Thanksgiving.  If you truly want to buck this trend of stores being open on Thanksgiving, that's a good course of action.  Let's face it, if business is bad, I'd have to believe stores would reexamine the idea of expanding their hours.  However, I think if people are willing to trample one another for a deeply discounted flat screen TV or the latest X-Box, they're not going to mind cutting their visit with Grandma short.  As of Monday (days before the sales start) people are already lined up outside of some Best Buy stores.

If you do plan to boycott the malls and stores on Thanksgiving, are you going to also not watch the news?  What about the football games that will be on TV all day or the holiday tradition of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?  It's not just the people you see on the screen working, but also the hundreds of behind the scenes folks running cameras, directing the show, and producing things.  They're all working too.  Skip the movies that night, as the men and women at the theater are also spending their holiday away from home, and don't turn on the radio either.

One of the many who work on Thanksgiving
That's just the entertainment side of things.  There are countless other professions who clock in every day, no matter what the calendar says.  Doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel, hospital support staff, troops serving overseas, restaurant workers, nursing home workers, gas station attendants, cab drivers, pilots, flight attendants, TSA screeners, train conductors, and bus drivers will all be working on Thanksgiving.  I know I'm leaving professions out, and for that I apologize, but you get the point.

I know this comes as no comfort to the men and women in retail who will spend their first Thanksgiving at work.  That's where new traditions can be born.  You may not be able to eat turkey and the trimmings on Thursday, perhaps a weekend celebration will work out for you.

A couple of other points.  Not everyone in this country celebrates Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Some people who work in retail may need the extra money that comes along with spending a holiday on the clock.  Of course, I'm assuming that people who work Thanksgiving will be compensated for it.  If that's not the case, I apologize for this.  Plus, no one is forcing shoppers to head out.  It's a choice.  If someone would rather spend their time looking for cheap gadgets for Christmas instead of hearing Uncle Phil yammer on about his bunions after eating pumpkin pie on Thursday afternoon, so be it.  It's part of being an American and having that option.

In closing, I don't think stores being open will kill the concept of Thanksgiving. When I was a kid, stores were closed on Sundays.  Target, Walmart, Venture, even the malls were closed.  Maybe this was just a thing in Missouri, but when stores did open on Sundays, death did not come to that day.  It's changed sure, but we've all adapted to those changes.

Hunsperger Thanksgiving
After work of course
I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing that stores are staying open on Thanksgiving, but what I am saying is, in this day and age when businesses are struggling to stay alive, they have to do what works for them.  If everyone who I've seen on Facebook and Twitter are true to their word, they're actions of staying home on Thursday may interrupt this new concept.  So, what are you doing on Turkey Day?



    Just kidding man, awesome post, definitely gave me a different perspective.

  2. I absolutely agree 100% with your blog! Until I moved to Illinois (and stopped working in the medical field) I knew many, many, many people who worked every holiday. Instead of cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner at home, I cooked at the fire house I volunteered at. I did it for two reasons. One, I could cook for all those who had no family or friends there in Manassas, VA and usually ended up at the fire house anyway. And, there were a lot of people who wanted to stay with their family. So, I would be there for any volunteer who wanted to not be there. A lot of residents never knew that the "paid" folks got every single night, every single weekend, and every single holiday off. We were who answered the calls when they weren't working. A nation of volunteers answered the call. So, I had already decided not to shop on Black Friday this year. First time in a very long time. Then I saw an ad for something I have wanted for a long time. It's at Best Buy and they open at 6pm. They are giving out tickets starting at 4pm. On Thanksgiving Day. I will be there. This is something I could not have afforded before this sale. So, I know this is a long post. But you know me. Kevin, I loved your post on your blog. And I am behind what you said.

  3. My husband would be cheering if he read it. You're absolutely right about some people who constantly work holidays. You're list was a good one. And we are a people who have the freedom to choose to shop or not shop on Thanksgiving. I, personally, am eating! Some folks sign up for working holidays by choosing professions that are work around the clock. I do feel bad for people who have to work and can't choose to stay home. I'm not shopping, but I am watching yo on tv, Kevin. :)

  4. Kevin, I too rarely ever get involved in these type of discussions. But I'm going to jump in and play the devils advovate . In each of those professions, yours included, you knew going into it that it was part of the job. Many of the families that make their carrers in big name retail do not have that choice. What if this was thrown at them without any sort of vote, such as Walmart employees. Many of them, to my understanding, weren't given a choice. It was work or we will find someone who will.
    That being said, you also make some really great points on making your tradionals about family, not a day.

    I do like to go out on black Friday and people watch more than shop, but I will stand by the no shop on Thanksgiving idea, and shop local as much as I can this year.

  5. Kevin, If the people that work on thanksgiving want to,I see no problem with that.. Those that MUST work is not a good thing.. Just my opinion !! I worked EVERY Holiday possible when I worked for myself. My choice !!

  6. " There are countless other professions who clock in every day, no matter what the calendar says. Doctors, nurses, police officers, firefighters, emergency personnel, hospital support staff, troops serving overseas, restaurant workers, nursing home workers, gas station attendants, cab drivers, pilots, flight attendants, TSA screeners, train conductors, and bus drivers will all be working on Thanksgiving."

    All of those professions you listed are NOT stores. They are professions that are needed to care for others. I have had to work on a holiday nursing too. I also remember Sundays where everything was closed. We planned on it, and survived. We knew it would be closed and we bought all our things on Saturday. People had a day to rest. I agree with the other poster, people who work at stores should be allowed to be home if they want on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Let's slow down people, do we REALLY need to go out in the middle of the night to buy things? Where are the priorities in our lives? And, being home on Sunday, to rest and go to a Church (if that is your thing) was really not a bad thing.
    When I die, I know that I won't be regretting the big sale I missed on Thanksgiving, I will be recalling the time spent at HOME with my family and friends. Yes, we as individuals can decide to stay home or go, but I have a family member who has to work Thursday at Walmart so people can run around like fools to get some unnecessary item that they could buy the next day. She will lose her job if she chooses not to work. Life is sooo very short. What happened to taking care of people? And, please don't tell me Wallmart needs to stay open to make buck. If everyone stayed closed, the craziness could just begin the next day anyway.
    That's just my opinion. Life is so very short, what's the harm in everything being closed for 2 days a year?