Editor’s note: This Jenny is Wright column originally ran Nov. 14, 2013.
What’s your Thanksgiving routine? Everyone’s set in their ways. Some always eat at 3 p.m. There are people who have rice instead of mashed potatoes (they are crazy, BTW). Big families gather, and others of you sit at a table of four, enjoying the peace. However you do it, it probably includes your loved ones.
I overheard a discussion the other day regarding Thanksgiving, and a girl said, “GREAT. It’s just another excuse for Americans to get fat and celebrate a fake holiday.” I don’t mind spending one day eating good food and lazing by the fire with family. It’s tradition.
The Gap, JC Penney, Macy’s, Kohls, Sears, Target, Walmart, Best Buy and many more are open on Thanksgiving Day. I often have mixed emotions about things, always trying to see both sides of the equation, but not this time. I do not like it. Not one bit.
“But people NEED to work, Jenny.” Okay. Maybe the time and a half per hour paycheck is enticing. I hear ya. Money talks, loud and clear. We just bought a car, and for the first time in 11.5 years, we have the dreaded car payment. Not only that, but our gas bill is about to shoot through the roof. We’ve got to keep the kids warm, I suppose.
Is it fair that employers dangle a higher than usual hourly rate in the faces of their workers? Who’s going to decline such a deal, with Christmas and Hanukkah knocking at the door? The businesses need workers, and the workers need money. Capitalism at its best. I get it. However.
I’m not suggesting we make it mandatory or anything, but what if no one worked? Back in the dark ages of my childhood, if you forgot green beans or butter for the potatoes, you were out of luck. No one was open. You could call the neighbor, but that’s about it. Burn the turkey? Get on your rotary phone and call the Butterball hotline. On Thanksgiving Day, I’ll bet no one answered. They were at home eating their Butterball. With family.
Speaking of burned, we caught our turkey on fire last year. I’m sure I told y’all about it. The fire was epic. We opened the grill to find the entire bird in flames. While it was nice to know that Walmart was open, we scraped the burned part off and ate the rest. It was one of our better turkeys. You call it burned; we call it blackened. Smoked, even. We didn’t need Walmart or any other grocery store.
If there isn’t enough money, instead of working on a day that’s supposed to be a holiday, lower your budget. It’s simple. Don’t let everyone pressure you to buy more. Gift buying should be fun. I like to think it’s purposeful. There’s nothing worse than ambling through a store, hoping you find something, anything, to wrap and give to Aunt Madge. Aunt Madge doesn’t want the picture frame, candle or lotion set, so there’s zero joy in giving it to her.
“But we have bills to pay, Jenny.” Sure you do! We all do. If you have bills to pay, and Christmas or Hanukkah gift-buying is sending you into a tailspin, please, forthelove, re-evaluate. I promise your kids will survive without Under Armor this Christmas.
Look, I’m all for finding a good deal. I grocery shop like the best of them. I don’t want to go every day, though. We all need a break. We need the downtime. I don’t know about you, but I need time with my family and friends.
“But my employer told me I have to work that day. I’m in retail, Jenny.” This is the worst reason of them all. Employers are requiring everyone to be there, no excuses, during the holiday season. If you don’t want to lose your job, you’re stuck. It ain’t cool.
I live in a dream world. I wish we could go back to the day when everyone took holidays at regularly scheduled times. Unfortunately, we live in a money-driven society, where a family set of iPads might seem more important than a quiet day home with family and friends. If you can help it, stay home this Thanksgiving. If shopping for good deals is part of your tradition, save it for Friday, at least. Eat turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes. If you must, have rice.
It’s one day. Be thankful. Stay home with your people this year. It’s tradition. Cheers!