Paul Jacob

New York Post columnist Nicole Gelinas sounds alarm bells that workers required to make time-and-a-half or double-time for clocking in on the holiday were being “cut off from fully celebrating America’s all-race, all-religion family holiday.”

My Mom was a nurse and sometimes had a to work on the holiday. It might have been nicer not to have to wait for her shift to end before feasting — for us kids not to suffer the awful indignity of actually having to help out in stuffing and cooking the turkey. That’s what being “cut off” from a “full” celebration seems to mean. But somehow we managed, as William Faulkner once said, to “not merely endure, but to prevail.”

Thankfully, Gelinas adds, “It’s shoppers, not the government, who should force stores to close.”

She’s right there. The government should butt out entirely.

Everyone has a right to boycott stores for opening on Thanksgiving. Such boycotts enjoy a rich history in America. Further, without any organized long-term protest, if enough folks simply decide to stay home stuffing their faces or watching football on TV, and don’t go shopping, retailers won’t be slow to get the message and close.

Of course, even watching football on TV requires a whole bunch of people to be employed outside the home, from the players and coaches and referees to the stadium vendors and security personnel to the television announcers and technicians.

Boy, this “problem” seems intractable . . . at least, until one considers that it is a distinctly first-world problem.

That is, no problem at all.

Could it be a blessing for which we should gratefully enumerate? Since the holiday being celebrated is all about giving thanks, wouldn’t having a job be something to put way up high on the list of things we’re thankful for?

Someone on the edge as to funding their family’s needs might even see working on Thanksgiving as a wonderful opportunity. I’ve been there. Most folks have. We would all likely prefer to win the lottery and have everything come easy, but when our numbers don’t come up (in most cases because we’re too smart to gamble our dollars away), we are grateful for the chance to earn our way in the world.

That’s precisely the original idea behind Thanksgiving, to give thanks for the opportunity to labor and struggle, free to make our own way in the world.

That freedom sometimes results in us having to work a holiday, and having to get together with family to count our blessings another day. Some might say that every day in America provides an occasion for offering thanks.

Including today.

Be grateful for our freedoms. Which includes the fact that we’re not yet wholly under the thumb of anti-consumerist bullies.     [references]


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.