The other evening I mentioned to my mom that some big box stores were making their employees work on Thanksgiving. We both agreed that it seemed to be an awful practice—heartless and so contrary to the spirit of the day.
But as she thought about it more, my mom offered up some other reasons why some people might not object to the crass commercialization of Thanksgiving Day. It’s conceivable that on this day when most of us are passed out in front of the TV, pumpkin pie crumbs gathering in the folds of our holiday sweaters, there are others who aren’t able to shop the sales on the other days of the year. And that must be true. I can imagine single mothers who are probably thankful for a day they can leave their children with relatives and take care of business, unfettered by crying, hyperactive toddlers.
I can also imagine a category of employees who eagerly volunteered to work on Thanksgiving Day. These folks might be giddily grateful to escape the drama and conflict brewing and bubbling over at their Thanksgiving table. Some of them might not have family and friends and for them, a day spent alone at home is too bleak to endure. Some might not have the money to afford a Thanksgiving dinner and would rather spend the evening in a brightly lit store than dining on fast food.
I can only hope that WalMart is making it worth their while that day, though it would be far better if the retail giant treated their employees better throughout the year.
I don’t know what’s more annoying: pre-Thanksgiving Day ads from WalMart urging people to shop that day or Michael Bolton, dressed in holiday duds, screaming at us to visit our local Honda dealer and plunk down 55,000 bucks for a new car. His ear splitting decibels could reach the customers at the dealer next door and those in the next state. And I’d like to slap the marketing brainiac who came up with this line in those ads, “Cue The Bolton.” When did this wedding reception musician earn that distinction? I’m thankful my sister has Tivo.
We’re all thankful for different things. Some of us are thankful that we’re not as bad off as others. Even on my most alone Thanksgivings, I was thankful I was no longer spending it with in-laws, their extended family members, and an assortment of stray significant others. Harsh, I know, but for me, a quiet, peaceful, conflict-free Thanksgiving is a blessing. (I’ll bet they’re thankful they’re not spending another Thanksgiving with me, too.)
You see, that’s part of what Thanksgiving is all about—comparison. We can gripe and grouse all year long about how bad we have it, but come Thanksgiving, we’re reminded that life is pretty darn plush for most of us. We’re reminded when we turn on the TV or radio or when we scan online news sources or our Facebook pages. We should be reminded of it when we pass people asking for money on the street.
Inevitably, during Thanksgiving week, we’ll ask our coworkers and friends what they’re doing on Thanksgiving Day. We find out that Jenny and her husband have to pack up the cornbread stuffing, the cranberry salad, the 1-year old and the toddler’s diaper supply, and travel 140 miles to the in-laws. We find out that the in-laws are barely speaking to each other, or that their wayward son, on parole, is visiting. We find out that the two sisters-in-law are still carrying on their decade long feud, the origins of which are no longer known or have expanded into something apocalyptically heinous. And we feel so very grateful and thankful that it’s not us.
Almost all of us are better off than others. Isn’t that enough to give thanks for?
This Thanksgiving, I’m spending it with friends of my sister, new to town. My mom and brother-in-law will be there, too. And, the host has invited our dogs to spend the evening there as well. I’m thankful for that because, on Thanksgiving Day, I’m also thankful for the presence of pets that enrich and add joy to my life. Yes, in comparison to a lot of people, I have it pretty good. And I’m so thankful for that.
What are you thankful for?