Every Thanksgiving I’m amazed at the shaming of consumers and particularly, how they “force” people to work on a holiday rather than stay at home with family. I have worked on a holiday¹, voluntarily, because there was work to be done and I needed the money. I valued the money I’d earn at least as much as I valued the free time I wanted. I don’t assume everyone who works retail on Thanksgiving is thrilled to do so. I don’t assume everyone who works retail on Thanksgiving is not thrilled to do so. This seems obvious to me.
I think that plays into a larger theme on Thanksgiving, and how we treat the preferences of others, generally. “What are you thankful for?” has an acceptable answer. “I’m thankful I live in a society where I can afford to buy quality products at a cheap price” isn’t it. “I’m thankful I have an opportunity to experience pointless cultural chaos on Black Friday because I enjoy the spectacle” isn’t it. It can’t be something trivial, and only the questioner decides what is and isn’t trivial.
I’ve shopped on Black Fridays in the past. Never early, but always on the day. I don’t now. My priorities have changed. I value my hours more. My needs have changed. I can afford to save time rather than money. Technology has changed. I bought my annual discounted iTunes gift card online² earlier this week. Why is saving 15% on money I’ll spend with Apple anyway somehow bad because I shopped near Thanksgiving?
I know I tend toward the margins of social opinion and preference. But we’re humans. We like rituals. I understand that. “What are you thankful for?” is less a question and more an agreement so we don’t feel alone. This value on rituals also helps explain Black Friday, I think, which is why I’d rather know the truth than participate in the script. I prefer your answer to the answer.
P.S. I almost apologized somewhere above for how tender and/or pretentious this probably is. Nah.
¹ New Year’s Day, so not exactly the same. And I was young and single. But I would’ve worked Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, if I could’ve. I earned $7.50 an hour as a recent college graduate. Every hour and dollar helped.
² I probably would’ve driven to Best Buy tomorrow afternoon in between making beer and watching hockey if it hadn’t been available online. It was, so I save the time and the money. If everyone did that, would the Best Buy retail workers like it?