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Thursday, November 26, 2015

This Used To Be A Holiday

Re-posting a piece I wrote three years ago...

A minority grows larger today, though its members would prefer that it didn't. They are the Americans who are forced to work on Thanksgiving.

There was a time when this was our only national day off from work. The only businesses that remained open were those that were already operating around the clock every day (radio and TV stations, gas stations) or restaurants that served Thanksgiving meals to others or those providing essential services (police, fire, hospitals, airlines and airports, NFL teams). Retailers, with the exception of some convenience stores, kept their doors locked.

But not any more. In yet another case of creeping corporate greed, more and more department stores and other outlets will begin their Black Friday sales tonight, forcing their employees to go to work while the clock still says Holiday. The irony is that these companies wouldn't open their doors and make people work if the customers didn't come streaming in, which they will. They'll claim that they're just meeting the demands of the American consumer, but it's a demand that didn't exist until they created it.

The media, which benefits from all the extra advertising, will play its role as always, sending reporters to the stores for live shots to report on the crowd that showed up to try to get a flat screen television for a buck and a half. At some point, they'll mention that the new Black Friday That Starts Thursday is the busiest shopping day of the year -- a factoid that has never actually been true (that honor goes to the Saturday before Christmas, when male members of the human species simultaneously realize they still haven't bought something for their significant other).

I'm not advocating for a law that bans these stores from doing business whenever they want. I'm opposed to blue laws of any kind. I'm just sorry to have lost the only truly American day off, the one we all got to participate in. Plenty of people don't celebrate Christmas and far too many companies are open on federal holidays like Presidents Day or Martin Luther King Day. Even Labor Day doesn't count as a break from work for many American laborers.

Couldn't we have just one 24-hour period where the country got to stay home?