If You Watch Football on Thanksgiving, You Are Part of the Problem

The past couple of days, this article has been repeatedly showing up in my Facebook feed and been stuck in my stuffing since I first saw it. It's a post by blogger Matt Walsh decrying the bloated growth of Black Friday to the point where our national day of Thanksgiving could more accurately be called Black Thanksgiving (coincidentally also the name of my unwritten holiday-themed horror movie), and for the most part he's right. We live in a country that has a nasty problem with consumerism and debt, and stores being open for big sales on Thanksgiving is really all the evidence you need that the problem is getting worse. But just because you don't go shopping doesn't mean you're not a part of the same problem you're so enraged by. What do you do on your holiday that causes others not to have one?

Matt writes:
Capitalism is great, but some things are greater. Family is greater. Yes, these folks choose to work at these stores. Yes, they likely knew when they signed up that they'd be sacrificing their Thanksgivings. Yes, at least they have jobs. Yes, sure, and so what? If that's enough in your mind to justify participating in the destruction of a great American tradition -- good for you. But you COULD wait until Friday, couldn't you? And if you did wait until Friday, and if everyone waited until Friday, no store would ever open on Thanksgiving again, right? So you COULD take steps to protect Thanksgiving from the decay of materialism and consumerism, and, while you're at it, give this wonderful holiday back to the customer service representatives who have been forced to abandon it and cater to the stampeding throngs, right?
An interesting point, and in light of it I would like to ask Matt, and everyone else who is outraged over stores being open on Thanksgiving, a few questions. To start: do you watch football on Thanksgiving? Have you ever spent your holiday going to a game? If so, have you ever thought about all the people who have to work to make the game and the broadcast happen? The last game was less than 3 days ago on Monday night - can't you wait until Sunday for another? And if you did wait until Sunday, and if everyone waited til Sunday, no football game would ever be played on Thanksgiving again, right? From parking attendants, to ushers, to security, to food service workers, I'm sure they're all more than happy to give up their Thanksgivings so that you can sit home or in the stadium and enjoy yours more. But it's OK, because football makes the day more bearable and it's tradition, right?

Have you ever been to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, or watched it on TV? Have you ever thought of the number of extra cops who have to work because of that 4-hour commercial which, by the way, has become a glowing symbol of the very consumerism you have such a problem with? What about all the workers who have to staff the businesses along the parade route? I went to the parade when I was in 7th grade. We took Metro-North into the city, had lunch at McDonald's in Times Square, and froze our asses off. But it's OK, because it's tradition, right?

One of my biggest pet peeves with holidays in general is that once 8PM rolls around, most everything is done with and there's really nothing to do...but you can always go to the movies. Have you ever gone to the movies on Thanksgiving? Do you think the people who sell you your ticket, sell you your snacks, run the projectors, and then clean the theaters are simply not interested in spending time with family and friends? I don't know, but regardless it's OK, because after all nothing says "giving thanks" like catching one of the 17 Thanksgiving Day showings of The Hunger Games at your local Regal, right?

Lots of people consider it a holiday to not have to cook on Thanksgiving. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant on Thanksgiving? Maybe a Denny's. What about gotten coffee at a diner or a drink at a bar with some friends that you don't see very often? Do you think the wait staff and cooks have an aversion to being in close quarters with loved ones, and therefore are cool with working? Maybe it's a family establishment and so it's all good because they're all in it together. I really don't know.

If you were to call 911, would expect someone to answer and help to be sent your way? Probably. I have a paramedic friend who has worked Thanksgiving for years, and not because he doesn't like turkey.

This Thanksgiving I will probably watch football (though I'm not a huge fan), may watch the parade (though I find it kinda boring), and might hit a diner, grab a drink, or see a movie (though probably not The Hunger Games). I doubt I'll call 911, though who the hell knows? I won't be doing any shopping, but I also won't be under the delusion that nothing I do this holiday will have a negative impact on other people. Companies like Wal*Mart who employ workers at low wages and use shady compensation tactics to prevent them from truly making holiday pay should of course be ashamed of themselves, but the emergence of more "open for business" signs on Thanksgiving is merely an extension of a problem in America that has been building for years and years: those who can afford it will have good holidays, and those who cannot will work.

And just like you're so upset about Thanksgiving Day sales, I guarantee that in 10 years you would be flipping a shit if they decided to end them. Because by that time it would be tradition, right?

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    © STEVE SCHULTZ