I have zero desire to shop on Thanksgiving Day. It’s the one day of the year that my husband’s family is all together. It’s a day that my kids look forward to all year. In fact, when you ask them what their favorite holiday is, they rank Thanksgiving over Christmas, because they love spending the time with their aunts, uncles, and cousins.
I also rank Thanksgiving over Christmas, but that’s partly because while I single-handedly make Christmas happen for my family, I don’t really have to do anything for Thanksgiving except pack and show up. Even taking into consideration a five-hour car ride with four kids during holiday traffic, it’s still pretty blissful.
So, no, I won’t be heading out to KMart or Walmart or any other mart at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving. I’ll be watching football in a turkey-induced stupor, or I’ll be playing Pictionary with my kids and their cousins, or I’ll be catching up with my sisters-in-law over pie and coffee.
I know that some people think that stores being open on Thanksgiving is positively evil. I’ve seen some people on Facebook condemning anyone who shops on Thanksgiving as a tool of the corporate overlords or whatever. Small groups have popped up urging shoppers to boycott the stores that are open on Thanksgiving.
My response is a resounding “meh.” I can’t get worked up about this, and I’m not alone in that: a recent survey shows that 38 percent of shoppers plan to shop on Thanksgiving, NBC News reports. First off, I have too many friends and family who have worked their share of Thanksgivings and Christmases because hospitals and police departments do not stop. Secondly, while I’m far too lazy and crowd-phobic to brave the masses when I could instead be eating more pie, I just don’t think shopping on Thanksgiving is all that terrible.
I have friends who look forward to Black Friday every year like other people look forward to the Super Bowl. It’s a family event: bands of sisters, mothers and daughters, gleefully planning out their strategies for weeks in advance. No doubt many of these friends will finish up their pumpkin pie and head out to Old Navy and Best Buy.
I have friends who will shop on Thanksgiving because it’s actually a convenient time to shop for them. One of my friends, who works full-time and then some, said she’s looking forward to shopping on Thanksgiving because she doesn’t have a lot of other time off between now and Christmas. Others will shop on Thanksgiving and Black Friday because they have a finite budget for holiday presents, and “door-buster” deals will allow them to buy a little something extra for their kids. Not everything purchased on Thanksgiving and Black Friday is a Christmas present: Some will seek out those deals because their kid actually really needs a new coat or new pants for school.
Before you continue grumbling that it’s not right to make people work on Thanksgiving, consider this: some families need that holiday pay pretty badly. According to a survey by Glassdoor, most workers at places like Target and Walmart make less than $9 an hour. Time and a half (or more, depending on where you work and which shift you get) makes a big difference in a paycheck that comes a) right before Christmas and b) just as you had to turn the heat up.
Yes, there are going to be people who end up working on Thanksgiving who don’t want to. But I think a lot of holiday work slots are going to be filled by employees who want and need the extra pay. For example, a Macy’s spokesperson told NBC News that more than 90 percent of its holiday work slots had been filled by regular employees who volunteered for the overtime pay. The remaining 10 percent will be filled by seasonal workers.
So am I going to shop on Thanksgiving? No, but I’m not going to judge those who do. (Although I will probably eat the rest of the pie while you’re out.) Go shop, find your bargains, check off your lists. Just be nice to the people working, and remember it’s not their fault if the lines are long or things are sold out.
And if you get a chance, since it’s Thanksgiving and all, don’t forget to thank the people in your life who have always worked Thanksgiving: hospital nurses, doctors, and staff; huge sections of the travel industry; police officers, emergency crews, dispatchers, and firefighters.
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