Monday, December 8, 2008

Shop, shop, shop

I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving. I know I did.
My daughter and I traveled “up north” — well, just to Catawissa — to spend the day with my sister and her family.
It was great to be with family and to share the day with some of the “extended branches” that we don’t get to see too often.
We ate too much, laughed a lot and were blessed by great weather and light traffic.
But something bothered me as we drove both there and back.
It was the fact that certain stores were open on Thanksgiving.
These are store where you can shop every day of the week. Being open on a holiday is not because they serve some life-and-death function; it simply means the owners of these retail sites were hoping to make a bit more money.
Now I can appreciate that these are extremely trying times financially.
And I suppose not everyone cares about spending the holiday with family and friends.
But all I could think of was that those people unfortunate enough to work there were being deprived of something special.
And for no good reason.
Having spent my career in the newspaper business, I’ve worked my share of holidays. We’re the kind of business that produces a publication every single day of the year, rain or shine, snow or sleet.
But journalists know that going into this career choice.
And on holidays, we do run with a “skeleton” crew so that the fewest people possible have to be here. We also open it up to “volunteers” first; only after that do we assign.
You know that isn’t the case when you have a huge retail operation open.
It just makes me wonder what in the world people have to have so badly that they would even want to shop on a holiday.
I don’t know how I ever made it growing up. Way back then, everything was closed on every single holiday — and everything was closed on Sundays.
Horrors! How did we ever survive when we couldn’t go to the grocery store or a department store or mega retailer or the mall?
Wait — there were no malls when I was growing up. We were even more deprived!
Yes, somehow people planned their weeks so that the shopping was done Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, basically everyone seemed to be in church, then home for a big lunch, and then either you visited relatives or they visited you.
And holidays were the same.
They were special and everyone seemed to agree that no one — unless they were in a crucial position such as a doctor or police officer or the like — should be spending the holidays anywhere but with loved ones.
It would have been absolutely unheard of to expect someone to have to give up Thanksgiving dinner so that you could buy laundry detergent and paper towels.
Family was far too sacred.
Some may think this is a far too old-fashioned concept; that it’s much better to have the freedom to shop for non-essentials even on Thanksgiving or other holidays.
I disagree. And maybe, just maybe, this financial crisis we are mired in will spur us to realize that things are not what is important in life.
Maybe it will get us to better prioritize our lives.

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