Some people, unfortunately, must work on Thanksgiving Day. There's no way in our society to give everyone the day off and let them be home with their families or just relax. Some services are needed that day and every day, such as gas stations, police and emergency rooms.
But the number of workers clocking in that day should be as few as possible, so when retail stores decide to start having their Black Friday sales a day early, it bothers us.
Last year it was just creeping in, but this year there's a clear corporate campaign to normalize it. Walmart, Best Buy, Sears and other stores will begin their Black Friday deals earlier than ever this year - often at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
It's not just big stores in cities and suburbs, either. The Sears in downtown Saranac Lake will be open from 7 p.m. to midnight this Thanksgiving with two workers on duty. Last year, too, it opened on Thanksgiving - a first. Then it was optional chain-wide. This year it's mandatory; all Sears stores must be open.
We have absolutely no problem with shopping, but there's a time for everything. There are plenty of shopping days, and there's no need for another one. But there's only one Thanksgiving - and most people really need this uniquely American holiday as a chance to relax, to share a meal with others and to think about what they're grateful for. It's a holiday, meaning "holy day" - not a religious one but nevertheless a special day, one set apart for special attention.
It gives us a little twinge of disgust and sadness to think of people jumping up from their family dinner tables to hit the stores and buy stuff they could just as easily buy the next day - but that alone wouldn't prompt us to write this complaint. If people really don't want to take a break from the world of commerce for one special day, whatever.
What gets under our skin is all those workers who do need and honor the holiday having it yanked away from them. For generations, Thanksgiving was sacrosanct. Now it's not. It makes one think, "What might be taken away next?"
At the Saranac Lake Sears, it's just two workers, but at any normal-size department or big-box store there will be dozens. If you add that up nationwide, thousands upon thousands of workers will have to leave their families early, don their uniforms and report for a night shift.
An unnecessary night shift.
The only reason we can think of for it is greed, and that's not good enough.
There's something you can do about it. Please don't go shopping on Thanksgiving Day unless you really have to. Wait until Friday or Saturday or some other day. If these stores don't make much of our money on the holiday, maybe they will decide to honor it, even if they do it for the wrong reasons.