Another Thanksgiving and I’ve fulfilled my stated intention: to eat until I can’t walk. Four guests for dinner (including my niece and her boys) and I still had all I wanted of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, coleslaw, peas, rolls – all of it homemade and all of it irresistible.
Dessert was a tough choice between the pumpkin pie that I made and the pumpkin cheesecake my niece made. Since my doctor told me to reduce stress, I decided to have some of each. After all, they both have beta carotene.
The meal started at 1 p.m. My friend Linda B. left for work at 4:15 p.m., and my niece and the kids were gone an hour later. Now I’m sitting in front of a wonderful fire and unlikely to move far from it, especially since the temperature is dropping: It’s 11 and breezy now, predicted to drop to 2 degrees overnight; tomorrow’s high is predicted to be 8 degrees and the low will be minus 8. At least it isn’t Fairbanks.
So much for my idea of hitting select Gray Thursday deals a few miles from here. While I’m aware that some of the advertised sales aren’t really that great, there were a couple of items I wouldn’t have minded getting. Could be even more than a couple, since I haven’t gone through the ads yet.
A veritable ghost town
However, I did hit Walgreens this morning. Knowing that they’d be open on Thanksgiving, I went to Fat Wallet’s Black Friday tool and read the store ad, making a list of free-or-nearly-free items I wanted. When I left the house at 7:45 a.m. I wished I’d started earlier, figuring there would be a long line of other people who wanted free toothpaste, shampoo, sore throat meds, lip balm, toothbrushes and the like.
No one on the road in my neighborhood. Practically no one on the highway. Just two cars in the Walgreens lot, and apparently they belonged to employees. I sat in the Subaru listening to the overture from “HMS Pinafore” while I waited for it to be 8 a.m. The overture ended just as an employee opened the door and rescued three bundles of the fattest newspaper of the year.
That’s how I came to wander Walgreens all by myself, taking my pick of the goods. Well, except for the sore-throat meds, which weren’t available. I gave myself extra frugal points because I also used coupons and paid with a discounted gift card.
Ultimately I came away with several stocking-stuffers and a handful of items for the women’s shelter. Just for fun I drove past the nearby shopping area and it was a ghost town.
I expect that will change in a couple of hours because some retailers want it both ways: to pretend they’re giving their employees the holiday with their families but also to pull in some early sales by opening at 7 or 8 p.m. Were it not for the lingering food coma I might be out there myself.
I won’t add to the pious proclamations of those who scold that Thanksgiving is a family holiday and the retailers ought to be ashamed, ruining this sacred time with vulgar commerce. Christmas creep isn’t actually new: Responding to pleas from store owners back in 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed Thanksgiving to the third Thursday in November. This lasted only three years; Congress passed a law in December 1941 to change it back to the fourth Thursday.
Opting out, if you can
Besides, there’s a way around it: If you don’t want to shop on Thanksgiving, stay home. This works for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, too: If you don’t like it/them, opt out.
And if you work at a place that insists you show up? Well, sometimes employment kind of stinks. You’re expected to work weekends, or take the lobster shift, or toil on beautifully summer days that clearly were intended for beach-going. I spent my eighteenth summer at a glass factory working this schedule:
- 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. for five days, followed by one day off and
- Going in at 3 p.m. the second day and working 3 to 11 p.m. for five days, then taking two days off and
- Going in at 11 p.m. the third night and working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. for five nights, then taking two days off and
- Starting the whole thing once more
(That is, when I wasn’t working double shifts – which I took whenever they were offered, which was often, because I was saving money to go to college.)
I never really got used to sleeping when I was supposed to sleep, especially when working those doubles. Yep, it kind of stunk. But I knew that going in. Factory jobs are neither fun nor easy. Neither are most retail jobs. But the glass has to keep being made, and those $4 DVDs don’t sell themselves.
Perhaps retailers will realize they’re not making enough at the brick-and-mortar stores to justify Gray Thursday openings. Until then, be kind to the people ringing you up at Target and Office Max. Having to work on Thanksgiving probably wasn’t what they had in mind when they snapped those wishbones.
Readers: Did you shop on Thanksgiving? Did you work on Thanksgiving?