Why “Black Thursday” Is Not The End Of Family

Saturday, 19 October 2013

When Macy’s announced they would be open on Thanksgiving Day, it was the press release heard round the world. Or at least the US. Consumer outrage was expected and predictable, calling upon family values and questioning a greedy retailers need to be open an extra day. But what’s the real story?

Let’s talk about those “poor employees” who can’t spend Thanksgiving with their families. Maybe their family is far away and this takes their mind of missing them. Maybe they want to provide a better Christmas for their kids, so working on Thanksgiving for a few hours of time and a half is a good trade. Unless they get sent home early to cut costs when no one comes looking for a Thanksgiving bargain.

And what about all the other industries that work holiday after holiday and no one gives a second thought? Think about them the next time you run out of milk on Christmas morning and run to that 24 hour store that’s always open. Or you book a holiday ski trip and spend the day in a 5-star lodge with Christmas dinner. Or head to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, or a bar on New Year’s Eve. All those employees probably would like to spend the day with family, too.

And let’s not forget the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Perhaps it’s cruel that they must get up and march in the cold every year? Best not to turn on the TV this year. Or tweet at a store about the next day’s sale–social media managers work most holidays too, although they can often respond remotely.

Times are changing, and I’d wager that someone is on a smartphone or tablet at every Thanksgiving dinner table this year. Embrace the change, and feel free to make your own traditions by avoiding the stores or heading out for a midnight madness sale.

There’s no rule that says shopping can’t be a family activity and time-honored tradition. My mom and I have been going for at least 15 years and it’s a ritual we look forward to, those early hours of just the two of us. We’ve seen all kinds of free gifts come and go, but none of them are what gets us out of bed at 5am. Black Friday is our special day together. And Thanksgiving Day can be yours, in any way you want it to be.

I’m not saying you have to shop. But give employees who want to work a chance to do so. And remember all those other jobs who work holidays and strange hours all year without a peep.

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