Nov 282013

From seemingly out of nowhere this year, and with great fervor, many people are decrying the practices of merchants opening on Thanksgiving and customers shopping them.

For the most part, I understand their sentiments. They’re concerned about valuing consumerism over family, and losing the cultural significance of a uniquely American holiday that is all about counting our blessings.

I also understand that liberty, for a great many things, means you doing your thing and me doing my thing. It’s not my concern whether a merchant chooses to open. It’s not my concern whether my neighbor chooses to shop at it.

For Thanksgiving, I generally eat a great meal, have a glass or two of bourbon, and relax with family. I also find a few minutes to consider at some length how ridiculously blessed I am, and thank God for that.

Nothing you did at Best Buy today had anything to do with that. I have to empower you to interfere with my Thanksgiving, and I don’t. So you can’t. (Gee, is there a gay marriage parallel in there too? But that’s another post.) I run Bo Williams. You run yourself. How would that be?

We need to remember that in a lot of ways, the most American value is minding your own business.

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 Posted by at 8:42 pm

  3 Responses to “Don’t shop on Thanksgiving. Or, do.”

  1. Firstly, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, my friend.

    Secondly, speaking as someone who is married to someone employed by a major national retailer, I resent having my holidays (yes, my Christmas will be effed up, too) rerouted because some idiot decides that it would be a great idea to go shopping for things that they really don’t need, or can certainly do without for another 24 hours.

    I understand the argument that a lot of folks honestly don’t MIND working on the holidays. (I was single for a long time. A chance to make more money and/or cover a shift for someone who was married or had a family? Fine — I’ll do it.) I know that there are now a lot of people who are just damn lucky to have ANY job and are therefore — willing or not — working these jobs and those hours without complaint. I know that there are some things that HAVE to be open. (A dear friend is an ER nurse and accepts without complaint that she will be working at least one of the big three holidays happening now, if not all three.)

    But 90% of the businesses open RIGHT NOW are not a necessity. And the materialism that drives society today is truly sickening. Stores opening at 8, 6… hell, 5 o’clock on a holiday like today — supposed to be about togetherness and thankfulness for what we already have are just throwing gasoline on the fire.

    I guess… yeah, I’m bitter. I talk a good game, understand why my situation is they way it is and try to just grin, bear it, and enjoy the respite afforded me by the delay but I find the whole thing repulsive on so many levels.

    • Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours as well, Kelly!

      I understand the sincerity and virtue of what you say. I also see it as part of the cost of a free society. I don’t think choosing to get a break on a fucking iPad if I’m out on Thanksgiving afternoon is a good thing to do either, but guess what? We’ve lost. “Society” has decided that it’s workable, so down goes the hammer and away we go. (The problem, of course, being that we are “society.”)

      I think a lot of people feel like you and I do about this. I think it’s admirable to try to persuade them to pause their consumption for 24 hours. I don’t, however, think it’s acceptable to demonize them if we can’t reach them.

      It’s futile anyway.

      Sometimes people who know me superficially think I’m a real people person, upbeat, optimistic, etc. You’ve been reading me long enough to know that while that’s part of me, another (perhaps larger) part of me is made of dark jerk. I love to be a social animal and hang with folks and smile and laugh and fellowship, but I do it on my terms. When I’m home and in for the evening, then that’s it. I don’t even like for the phone to ring.

      This is relevant to the current discussion because it was beat into me long ago that giving “society” the benefit of the doubt is a fool’s errand. The dipshit who’s gone all Pavlovian waiting in line for his $50 break on whatever-the-hell-he’s-got-to-have is the same guy who doesn’t make a new pot of coffee at work, or who cut you off on the way home. I’d rather rely on nearly anything but the kindness of strangers.

      And that guy’s going to nod with you when you plead with him to have some sense of reasonable priority, and say “yeah, I get what you’re saying, but…” and he’s gone right back to the line to get his $50 break because, you know, there it is.

      • Understood. I do not wait for the general population to “do the right thing” because after 45 years on this planet, any youthful idealism about the “kindness of strangers” has pretty much been beaten out of me.

        However, I don’t think the thing to do is to sit back, sigh at the general idiocy and throw up my hands to say, “Well, it doesn’t matter.” It does.

        Society CAN change. Society DOES change. We didn’t get to this point overnight, and we’re not going to change it overnight. Used to be that if a significant section of society decided that if something was unacceptable, then taboo it became and you just.didn’ That’s how self-governance works. Norms and mores and all that crap we were taught in sociology. The same way it’s become unacceptable over the last 50 years or so to use certain words and discriminate against certain folks. It evolves.

        If people will simply speak up, grow a spine and stop being cowed by the animals among us; if they actually make it clear via the bully pulpits widely available to us that certain things are unacceptable; if they will vote with their pocketbooks and stick to one small promise… these small actions can move mountains. They have in the past and will continue to do so.

        If good people continue to throw up their hands in the face of evil, then yes, we are lost. If we pretend that these are little things and that they don’t matter in the long run, don’t-you-have-bigger-things-to-worry-about-young-lady, then yes, we are lost.

        I’ve spent the last 20 years of my life being browbeaten into “accepting” as normal a lot of things I don’t like. Damn it, it’s MY turn to change things. Someone — I can’t remember her name, I’m sorry — commented on your FB posting and said, “Are we going to let them take Christmas, too?” — or something very similar.

        As for me? I’m not. And I’m not nice about it. I can tell you that I’ve personally gotten in the face of quite a few people about this subject over the last few weeks. And it wasn’t nice-nice pleading. It was in-your-face, NY-style, let-me-explain-to-you-why-you-are-a-fucking-idiot.

        Changing one dim bulb at a time. That’s how we fix this.

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