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How many people out there believe that if a person is a low wage worker, that person should be denied the ability to observe traditional, cultural holidays in America?

If you raised your hand, then kick yourself in your own ass as hard as you can.

You see, holidays are more than just holidays. They are symbolic of how we feel about the ourselves as a culture, and in this case, since Thanksgiving is about the very inception of community in America-but now, apparently Thanksgiving is only good for making money--and not building community.

Wow, that's the world I want to help create, one that revolves exclusively around money.

On a side note, don't you ever wonder why people don't know or care about some of our most famous presidents, or who Martin Luther King Jr is and what he accomplished? Because the holidays we designated for those famous historical figures are nothing more than annual sales. Those days have become all-day shopping affairs. The original meaning behind these holidays has vanished, in favor of chasing that ever elusive "good deal". When was the last time you knew of a parade on these days to honor these historical figures?

No one cares why, or who or how, so long as they can either make money that day, or get what they think is a good deal on some object. And now Thanksgiving and Christmas are falling down the same money-laden holes. Meanwhile our best and brightest sit around scratching their heads, wondering why "Nothing is Sacred" in this culture at all.

Now I am not a Christian, but I appreciate the symbolism of Christmas, as it appears in that religious context, as well as it's counterparts that take place all over the world.

Rebirth, renewal, family, community, sharing, charity--that time when humanity found literal and figurative warmth during the longest and coldest nights of the year. Winter stores would soon be running thin, and everyone hoped spring would come soon, and with it, food and warm sunny days. And during that lean time, caring for your neighbors and family, helping your community by contributing.

But now--it's long lines waiting for some kind of hand held device, that spies on you for corporations and maybe even the government. Does that seem like a good trade to you? Would you rather have an impersonal hand held computer or a community?

Thanksgiving is similar in many ways, to Christmas, but without all the gift giving. Though it seems as people work longer hours for less money and benefits, we have had to start shopping earlier and earlier in the year, to cover all those obligatory gifts, to make our dollar stretch.

So now stores put up Christmas decor as early as August. Most start several days before Halloween. We are bombarded with Xmas Spirit the weeks prior to Halloween, through Thanksgiving all the way to days after Xmas [that's the bland corporate version of Christmas].

And now more and more employees are being asked to give up their Thanksgiving Holiday, so that the companies they work for, can rake in the bucks between Halloween and Xmas. And many employees are asked to work now, on Xmas eve as well. That's not counting all the bullshit that transpires the day after Xmas, all the way to New Years.

In our increasingly service oriented serfdom, more and more people are being denied even basic holiday observances so that they can wait on, that 53 percent of Americans who can afford to be home for the holidays.

But the best part is, that someone HAS to work those registers on those days. Someone who isn't going to get the day off, and in the case of Walmart, someone who probably isn't going to be compensated for working a major holiday. While you are at home diddling with your new gadget, some poor bastard at these stores is going to be missing their own family on a big holiday. Wondering if there will be any turkey left when they get home, or pie, or if they will get back in time before their elderly relatives leave, to go back to whatever other state they live in.

These are the same stores that treat their employees like crap. Hey, we all want a job, but at what cost? There is working, as in an equal exchange of energies, and then there is someone owning you. Somehow these stores and their handlers lost that notion.

Even the military, where you might have to be on duty on a holiday, does their best to make it up to the troops. They make sure you are provided with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, if you are deployed, often your family is provided a means to contact you over Skype or Satellite Phone, other amenities and entertainment is provided, to make sure that you know, your country appreciates the fact that you are working on a major holiday. And barring that some kind of compensatory deal is made to help make up for the loss. And FYI--Military folk work holidays for the purposes of National Security! What is Target's Excuse? Walmart? Any of these stores? What is so important that they need to be open on these days? Why a sale the day of instead of weeks before? Why not in June or August?

But the big box stores in question don't do that. They just want you there, they don't care what the personal cost is to you, or any of that dewy eyed bullshit about holidays. SHOW THEM THE MONEY! They don't even care about community, unless of course they can get something for caring about it.

That is why, once again, we will not be shopping at stores that are open on these dates. No thank you. No Black Friday crap for me. Beyond the absolute affront this offers to the idea of American Community--It's not worth it to deal with the stressed out shoppers who will become enraged over parking spots, or red lights that last too long, who cut in line, or are otherwise walking germ factories oozing the flu.

And heaven help you if you have to use the restroom during this time. Women from all over the world come here, to pee on our toilet seats in the lady's restrooms, apparently not caring that small children cannot "hover" leaving their mom to have to clean it up in a jiffy so that we can all enjoy an indoor restroom with a door, as opposed to squatting on sidewalk, which is where those wannabe debutantes belong.

The sales are just not worth that. And most of the time, even by normal standards, the sales are not that great. So why bother? Why bother when you can just avoid all this, and maybe send the message to these behemoth stores, that all Americans should be entitled to some time off to observe the holidays, or perhaps just to get a little rest from the insanity.

I don't shop on those holidays, because it perpetuates a harmful paradigm that erodes what used to be some of the deeper bonds of shared cultural identity. I don't shop those days because it's insane and stupid and I have no patience for the drama. I don't shop those days, because I am hoping that some day the rest of America will wake up and say, "No More" to this insanity, so that we can all enjoy well earned time with our families, to renew those connections that weather long hours, low wages and few or no benefits.

How many recitals did you miss this year? How many softball or soccer games? How many teacher conferences did you have to reschedule or just miss outright? How many times did you put off maintenance to your car, or a doctor's appointment for you, because you just are tired to dealing with dickish policies that pervade the atmosphere in America right now? And now this? They want you to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve too? And we all know workers are afraid to say no. They might get fired for speaking up.

And to those people who shop on those days with their hollow-faced consumerism, you are creating a precedent that will bite you in the ass too. Even if you are never asked to work on these holidays, because you have enough clout to avoid the assumption, your college aged kids won't be so lucky. Your siblings might not be so lucky. Your mother or father who has to go back to work, when the Dems bargain SSN away might not be so lucky.

And when you look at all the junk in your house, a house that is devoid of family and friends, because, hey! They are all working--you will have no one to thank but yourself.

Holidays are a time of remembrance, of reconnecting, of building new family connections; they are a time of sharing, and of having fun hopefully. When we deprive ourselves of these traditions, we deprive ourselves of the feeling of tradition. We are giving away our sense of history, and we are cutting at our own roots. We weaken our families and communities with what is essentially a bad trade.

In the long run such a trade has been and will be even more disastrous. I hope more people say no to these ridiculous shopping nights, until finally the big bosses get it through their thick skulls that this is not profitable, nor is it proper.

Originally posted to GreenMother on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:14 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.


I will be shopping on various "black Fridays" this year

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Comment Preferences

  •  Barbershops should be closed on Mondays (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, FloridaSNMOM

    and supermarkets should close at 9 p.m., and oh yeah, no alcohol should be sold on Sunday.

    What a wonderful world it would be!

    Am I right, or am I right? - The Singing Detective

    by Clem Yeobright on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:34:36 AM PST

    •  It's a good argument (4+ / 0-)

      for bringing back blue laws at least where it pertains to commerce.  We do need some down time as a society from 24/7 commerce.

      For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. --John Maynard Keynes

      by Kurt from CMH on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:07:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There are still blue laws in Paramus NJ. (3+ / 0-)

      The place is lousy with shopping malls and the people who live in Paramus have to deal with traffic congestion just to get around town except on Sunday when the stores are closed.

      Every decade or so someone manages to get enough signatures on a petition to bring a referendum to allow Sunday shopping, and the voters reject it every time.

      They just want their one day a week to themselves.

      "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

      by JBL55 on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:44:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't blame them. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
      •  My mother lives in the next town over, so I'm (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        very familiar with Paramus. Not long ago, we had to go someplace and she suggested that we take rt 4 or 17. I immediately said, "What about the traffic?" She said, it's okay because it's Sunday.

        Most of the stores in those malls are large corporations anyway, so the companies are mostly not losing money if someone decided to go elsewhere to buy. Some of the smaller stores on the highway might, though.

        •  Many express concern about the smaller stores ... (2+ / 0-)

          ... and the unemployed when this kind of referendum comes up for a vote.  They ask, "Isn't it hurting business?  Doesn't it deprive people of a day's wage?"

          An important thing to remember is that the owners of the smaller stores knew about the blue laws when they made a business decision to open a business in Paramus, because the blue laws have been around a very long time.  As far as I have ever known, they are not the ones who want the blue laws overturned -- it's the Big Box stores.

          I suspect there are smaller stores who actually suffer because of the tendency of folks to avoid the area altogether on non-Sundays because the traffic can be so awful.

          "The fears of one class of men are not the measure of the rights of another." ~ George Bancroft (1800-1891)

          by JBL55 on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 02:16:52 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  My only complaint about blue laws, was that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it favored not just religion over non-religion, but one specific religion over all others.

      Otherwise--we do deserve some down time. There is nothing wrong with not having people available to cater to your every whim.

      Learn to entertain yourself, and by the way, shopping is not a sign of personal growth.

  •  I will be picketing at Walmart (5+ / 0-)

    And here is a link to the National Black Friday Strike Against Walmart facebook page. So you can join too.

    Just your average every day Autistic hillbilly/biker/activist/union steward with an engineering degree.

    by Mentatmark on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:39:12 AM PST

  •  I don't do Black Friday (7+ / 0-)

    Too much hassle, crowds, and noise for a piddly sale. My dad did Black Friday once (he needed a new computer), and he swore never again. He practically had to fight an old woman who was trying to take the computer out of his cart... while he was there. Yeah, senior citizens fighting over a purchase at Walmart. That's a holiday activity we can all enjoy.

    This year I'll be in Italy, shopping no doubt, but not on a holiday for them. I like to shop, but I also believe that others need a life that's not owned by work.

  •  That's a fine essay (3+ / 0-)

    I resolve again to make gifts for my loved ones. Candy, cookies, jams, nice foods or crafts. Real, organic grenadine syrup is first on the list because of the nice pomegranate harvest.

    We're into that cheap thing and can't afford expensive gadgets anyway.

    Got that Steely Dan earworm I always get when the subject comes into mind this time of year. So for anybody else, it better to get get through it.

    "Societies strain harder and harder to sustain the decadent opulence of the ruling class, even as it destroys the foundations of productivity and wealth." — Chris Hedges

    by Crider on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:02:43 AM PST

    •  This year, I am working on some scrap books (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      for a couple of relatives. In our house, Christmas is mostly secular and for the kids. We tell other adults that unless they really want to, that they don't need to get anyone in the family anything.

      All we want from our friends is friendship.

      Best Christmases are at home with family and friends, with popcorn cooked in an iron skillet and mulled wine and a good pair of binoculars for star watching wrapped in thick throws.

  •  kudos for righteous rant (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One minor quibble re "gadgets": due to a combination of technology and social trends, more people are a) living too far away from family to physically be there on holidays, and b) instead must use those consumer gadgets to stay in touch. Yes, the same ones they will be selling/buying on Black Thursday. Its kind of sad trend, but unavoidable, given our increasingly mobile and overworked life.

    "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

    by quill on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:03:44 AM PST

    •  It's not the gadgets I object to specifically, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the bizarre consumer culture that prizes gadgets above a life--be it yours, mine or life in general.

      Gadgets are handy. I like my computer. But my computer doesn't make the sun shine, I don't sleep with my computer, and I don't prefer it's company to that of friends or my family. It is just a thing. A thing that makes some aspects of life easier, but still IT is not a life.

      •  Embarrassed to say I sometimes sleep with my phone (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        because I read ebooks to make myself go to sleep...

        But my partner is warmer and MUCH better company.

        May you have a wonderful consumer gadget and shopping free TG!

        "I don't cry over milk spilled under bridges. I go make lemonade" - Bucky Katt

        by quill on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 05:13:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Ha! You know what I mean ;) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I fall asleep sometimes with books. I have resisted getting a nook and other similar devices, thus far. But they do look nice. However I will not stand in line at O-Dark-Thirty with hundreds of other people, pushing and shoving to get into a store, on a holiday or the eve of.

          I have a PC otherwise I wouldn't be here. I am not a total luddite. I even have a cell phone.

          I hope you and your partner have a lovely holiday too.
          Thanks for stopping by.

  •  The sad truth is, (6+ / 0-)

    most of these companies do not make money from Black Friday.  I have worked for a leading technology chain in the US (can't say who even though I don't work there anymore) and the products themselves were sold under cost, sometimes almost 50% of what the store paid for it from the manufacturer.  It's made up in services and protection plans sold with the product, and some vendor kickback on the back end based upon how much product we moved for that vendor.

    For most of these stores, Black Friday becomes a fiscal hole they must dig themselves out from under.  In my store, September and October before Black Friday we had to make really good numbers to offset the losses of that one day.  

    So why do companies still do this?  Consumer confidence is one reason.  If they are seen as not doing well on Black Friday (even though the more they sell the worse they do!) then consumers stop shopping there like you wouldn't believe.  The data on this phenomenon is striking.  It doesn't even matter if after that point, your store has the best products for the best deal.  If you're not popular, you're dead.

    That, and you'd be amazed by how many people go out on Black Friday for leisure shopping, even after the rows of good deals/doorbusters have been picked over and are completely gone.  "Well I heard you guys had good deals this year..." even if those deals were sold out at 1am and it's now 6pm!  People are incredible.

    Some of us, when working crappy retail jobs, don't even remember what holidays are like.  Or we just loathe them because it means more work, more hours, management pushing for better numbers than last year (because apparently stores should always be growing, all the way to infinity?), pushing for more work on less time and less benefits.  It's like they have no concept of the idea that at some point, you reach critical mass and have nowhere to expand in the market.  Or you've had every person in your town apply for the credit card, so to keep pushing for better numbers than the year before is ASKING for failure.  Or that at some point, we all have so much to do and so little time to do it, that our work becomes sloppy, because I have to manage this area and help customers and work the floor and man the phones, the jobs that four people did last year.

    God I really, really hate retail America anymore.

    •  If the companies want to gain my confidence then (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FourthOfJulyAsburyPark, efrenzy

      here's a list:


      Honor  your contracts--including pensions and retirement plans,

      Stop treating your lower end employees like shit and then complain about the prevalence of shitty attitudes in general.

      Stop selling junk.

      Stop replacing workers with computers and then wonder why local economies start collapsing.

      Stop institutionalizing racism, sexism, classism and religious bigotry as if these were work-ethics to be proud of.

      Stop acting like your employees don't have families, these companies dump so much money into the "Family Values" crowd and then do everything they can to rip families apart. STOP IT.

      Otherwise those dumb ass numbers don't mean a thing to me. It's just one more thing that is used to distract us from actual problems. One more ruse to cover up the dysfunctional paradigm.

  •  "They" have been longing for the commercialization (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, GreenMother

    of Thanksgiving.  But, we the people, won't (or wouldn't) have any of that.  So, they're going to eliminate the Holiday by making it impossible to celebrate.

    I've occasionally done the Black Friday thing.  But, it must be a really good sale and/or it's been something I've been waiting to replace and it's on sale (Several years ago, I went from July to Black Friday with an 'old' tube tv that was loosing its horizontal cause I knew that there would be decent sales on the LCD screens then - they were the hot item that year).  This was before the opening times became absolutely insane though, if 5 am Friday wasn't insane enough.

  •  The past two years (4+ / 0-)

    have been my first times ever getting off black friday and Christmas Eve. I finally joined the ranks of the 53%....barely... I refuse to shop on Black Friday or Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve because I hated working those days. I remember just how much I hated every soccer mom that jubilantly walked through Old Navy on Thanksgiving Day. I hated them. They always asked "how is your Thanksgiving?" I wanted to say" it sucks because you exist."

    Born in TN-05 and Live in TN-05, Went to college in TN-09 and TN-06, Married in IA-02.

    by zakandsantos on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 10:39:35 AM PST

  •  I worked retail and fast food on black friday (2+ / 0-)

    I won't do that to another person. And if I do find myself having to go to the store that day (realize I'm out of something I can't do without like TP), I'm very very polite, calm and appreciative of those working.

    I'll do online black friday early sales, but some of those last the entire week. I don't mind ordering 'black friday sales' on Tuesday or Wednesday.

    "Madness! Total and complete madness! This never would've happened if the humans hadn't started fighting one another!" Londo Mollari

    by FloridaSNMOM on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 11:59:54 AM PST

    •  I get that. And that's how it is here too. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      To me this is parallel to the National Voter Holiday, and the habit that governments have of holding open meetings at 2 pm in the afternoon.

      To me this has become an concerted effort to disenfranchise the blue collar, and the working poor, by working them to death til there is nothing in this world for them but work.

      It reminds me of breaking a horse. You deprive the animal of all meaningful relationships except one, til the animal gets used to it and perhaps one day might even be fooled into being grateful.

      And we wonder why we have such a co-dependent culture.

  •  I've had jobs where I've had to work on holidays, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, GreenMother

    never a brick and mortar retail store, happily. One place I worked never had problems finding people to volunteer because we had a union contract and got paid double time. Also, it was a slightly slow day, so they didn't need a full staff. They'd have a sign up sheet with a choice of half day slots. They'd also have some food. Nothing exciting, but I liked the fact that they at least acknowledged that the were asking people to work on a holiday.

    I hate shopping more than any other activity in the world, and things like Black Friday just make an already unpleasant chore unbearable. nchristine is probably right about corporations wanting to commericalize Thanksgiving. It's probably nearly impossible to commercialize cooking for your family to the degree that they'd like to, so I guess they're just going to try to undermine it.

    My last two boyfriends refused to join me on Thanksgiving claiming that they just didn't "do" family holidays. My family is relatively small and there's no weird internal feuds going on, so I didn't get it. I tried to explain that it was all the same people they like on other days.

    I've always really liked Thanksgiving because I like cooking and like my sister, my mother and my brother-in-law. Shortly after my father passed away, my brother-in-law's mother invited us for Thanksgiving. Before dinner, she said grace without mentioning anything religious and she said something in memory of my father that also avoided religion. This was a big moment for by b-i-l since his mother was highly religious but my father was an atheist. He was so happy that she was able to not impose her views on other people for a day. Thanksgiving has always been a very uniting time for me.

    •  My family is crazy on both sides (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I know this may shock some of you.

      But we are still mostly family. Now the whole clan doesn't get together, because I notice that as families get larger, they tend to split off into slightly more manageable groups for holidays, and save the big gatherings for family reunions.

      I don't really care of people pray around me. I only draw the line at imprecatory prayers. Otherwise--whatever you have to do to get you through the dinner man!

      I am not such a small person that I cannot give a respectful silence to someone when they are praying for something good.

      I don't really even care that our political views are all over the map. I won't bring it up if you won't.--Lets play scrabble instead.

      •  It's harder on my b-in-law, because he rejected (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        his family's religion. Consequently, it's the cause of fights between him and his mother. My sister is the most die hard atheist I know now that my father's passed away. Most people don't know that because she hates conflict and never discusses it with anyone.

        •  I just don't like the drama, and will keep my (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          thoughts to myself in most cases. Exception being, ---imprecatory prayer, or some form of bigotry or senseless nastiness.

          I can give as good as I get, if I so choose. Most of the time, I choose pie.

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