10 November 2012

Is Thanksgiving in Danger of becoming Extinct?

The holidays are almost upon us.  We will be traditionally kicking off the holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving Day and the Day After Thanksgiving, commonly known as Black Friday.  By the way, not to mention the constant stream of holiday music we'll hear.
The holiday season is my favorite time of year.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are not just holidays; these holidays are time to be with friends and family.  You know what Thanksgiving is all about:  Big turkey dinners and the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, televised on your local NBC affiliate (here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, that would be WFLA-TV NewsChannel 8).
Recently, I have been noticing a lot of things going on that Thanksgiving as we know it in America may end up becoming extinct, thanks to Corporate America.  About this same time last year I wrote a blog entry on Thanksgiving, Christmas and the ever-growing Anti-American holiday sentiment in which public schools and Corporate America are increasingly shunning the holiday season in one form or another.
I recently came across a petition on Change.org started by C. Renee of Corona, California regarding Target's plans to open its doors at 9 PM on Thanksgiving Day in order to get a jump start on the Black Friday madness.  Apparently, what Target is doing is in response to Wal-Mart (Florida's trespass and ban for life happy retailer) opening on Thanksgiving Day an hour earlier than Target at 8 PM.
What is going on here?
This is Corporate America at its finest:  Shunning one of America's major holidays, Thanksgiving Day, by being open for business just to make a quick buck.  Last year Target opened their doors at 12:01 AM on Black Friday, as was reported in my blog entry from last year.
Being open on Thanksgiving Day may be convenient, but if you as a retailer decide to open on Thanksgiving Day, your associates cannot enjoy any quality time with their families on Thanksgiving Day.  Being open on Thanksgiving Day is not right.
First, I can understand that our police officers, firefighters and public safety personnel do have to work not only on Thanksgiving Day, but any holiday of the year for that matter. After all, we rely on these fine personnel to keep us safe.

However, I am miffed when I find out that a retailer – especially a retailer known for traditionally closing on Thanksgiving so that their employees can be with their families – decides to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day all in the name of making a quick buck.

Does Corporate America care anymore about America’s traditional holidays?
Here in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, we have businesses that are traditionally closed on Thanksgiving Day so that their employees can be with their families. A great example is Publix Super Markets, which has had a closed on Thanksgiving Day policy from the day George Jenkins founded Publix a long time ago.

If George Jenkins ever found out his Publix stores were open on Thanksgiving, I imagine he would be very sad to see this.  This is one of many reasons I prefer to shop at Publix whenever I need groceries.

Unfortunately, two other supermarket chains have decided to practically do away with Thanksgiving and be open on Thanksgiving Day, citing customer convenience:  Sweetbay Supermarket and Winn-Dixie.  Sweetbay claims that they are open on Thanksgiving for customer convenience, but Sweetbay’s Belgian owners – Delhaize Group – apparently believes that Thanksgiving is an interruption to their business. While Sweetbay may be open as a customer convenience, in reality their associates cannot enjoy quality time with their families on Thanksgiving.
After all, Thanksgiving is not a legal holiday in Belgium, nor in the rest of Europe for that matter.  One minor exception, according to Wikipedia, is in the Dutch town of Leiden, where a non-denominational church service is held on the morning of American Thanksgiving Day, commemerating the hospitality the Pilgrims received in Leiden prior to setting out across the Atlantic in search of the New World.
Sweetbay used to be known as Kash ‘n Karry, which was locally owned here in Tampa for many years. Then Belgian based Delhaize Group came into town in 1996 and bought up the Kash ‘n Karry chain, remodeled the stores, and rebranded them as Sweetbay as we know today.
Practically the same thing is over at Winn-Dixie. Besides being open for Thanksgiving in the name of customer convenience, Winn-Dixie is notorious for poor customer service: Rude and belligerent checkout staff as well as forcing you to surrender your personal information if you want lower prices or you are subjected to substandard treatment as a customer. In other words, the person ahead of you with a Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card gets better treatment while you, with no card (being your choice), are subjected to more harsh and belligerent treatment.   Like Sweetbay, Winn-Dixie’s associates end up paying for being open on Thanksgiving Day in that they cannot enjoy quality time with their families on Thanksgiving.
And we can't forget McDonald's, which traditionally used to rest on Thanksgiving as well as Christmas according to signage posted at the store entrance.  Today, it seems like McDonald's is slowly trying to do away with Thanksgiving by being open more and more on Thanksgiving Day; it used to start by being open for breakfast hours.
Now here's my take on Corporate America being open on Thanksgiving Day for the sole purpose of making a quick buck before Black Friday:
1. Being a native born American citizen, I firmly and strongly believe in all the holidays that America celebrates, including Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.
2. If Corporate America does not want to have anything to do with Thanksgiving, then have your corporate eons lobby Congress to repeal Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Believe me – it won’t happen; Thanksgiving is deeply rooted in tradition as an American national holiday to begin with, going back to the days when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620 and earlier when Juan Ponce De Leon landed on the Florida east coast near St. Augustine in 1513.
3. Thanksgiving and Christmas are holidays to be with family and friends. As such, I do not conduct any business on Thanksgiving as well as Christmas.  Besides, I was born and raised in an era where retailers were closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas (and we knew better to stock up on things before the holidays); unfortunately, today we live in an "I gotta have it right now" era - an era of instant gratification.

4. Finally, if the spirit of the American holidays – especially the fall holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas – offend you in any way, please consider leaving the United States of America and find another country where our American holidays are not celebrated, especially a country where human rights and civil liberties are grossly violated.

We cannot let Thanksgiving as well as Christmas become extinct, thanks to Corporate America that think these holidays are a nuisance. Thanksgiving and Christmas - along with America's other major holidays - are not a nuisance; instead our nation's holidays are part of our heritage.  Besides, you have a right to express your disapproval of retailers being open on Thanksgiving Day by not spending your hard earned money at these places.

As I said last year, onward with the holiday season!

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