Being Open On Thanksgiving: Burden or Blessing?


Seems like there is a lot of social media fights at the holiday time these days.  There is the fight to hear Merry Christmas from retail stores.  There is a fight to have snowflakes on red cups at Starbucks.  There is a fight to keep stores closed on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Today I want to help you think through that last fight.

My Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions were probably not like yours.  I grew up going out to eat for both of those holidays.  I remember eating Thanksgiving at places like Shoneys, IHOP, and a few local places that stayed open.  After my parents divorced when I was 16 years old I began to eat 2 meals out on holidays.  I’ve even eaten CiCi’s Pizza on Christmas Day!  I know it is different than your idea of the holidays.

At some point I began to feel bad about eating out on the holidays.  It wasn’t my choice, but I was a part of these restaurants staying open.  I remember thinking that this waitress was missing Christmas morning with her kids.  How terrible am I for making her work on Christmas to serve me?!?

As I got older and thought about this situation my opinion began to change.  As I talked to people who were working the holidays, I saw a different side to being open on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Here is what I learned:

  • Almost all of those folks are living paycheck to paycheck.  They don’t want to miss 8 hours of work.  Most of those working on Thanksgiving/Christmas are not salaried but hourly workers.
  • Most places are paying time and a half for employees working these holidays.  This means those struggling financially are making better money by working these days.
  • How good are your tips on Thanksgiving and Christmas?  My understanding is some people really want to work holidays because the tips are so much better.
  • Many managers are sensitive to those with young kids.  Most have had Christmas morning with their kids, go to work, and then come home for dinner.

I don’t eat out every holiday anymore.  However this Thanksgiving we will probably get celebrating in a hospital room with a new baby.  I will be so thankful for the men and women that are working at the hospital and in the cafeteria.  I will be thankful for those that are working at restaurants, gas stations, and pharmacies because we may need those places if we are able to leave on Thursday.

Instead of fighting to keep places closed on the holidays maybe we should be thankful that many are open.  Let us bless them with kindness and great tips this holiday season.


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