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Brandon Andress is the author of AND THEN THE END WILL COME! (April 2013) and Unearthed: How Discovering the Kingdom of God Will Transform the Church and Change the World (2010). He lives in Columbus, Indiana and writes for his popular blogs Brandon Andress and A Joyful Procession. Brandon earned his MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University and his BA in Psychology from Hanover College. He loves the outdoors, hiking, camping, and traveling. For more information visit: www.andthentheendwillcome.com

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

goodbye Thanksgiving…

When you see or hear of something that just isn’t right… you have a choice as to what you are going to do about it.

You can either choose to ignore and turn a blind eye to it- or- you can choose to say something and draw attention to it so that something might change.

Even more department stores have decided to open on Thanksgiving than the number in 2012… in order to get an edge on other stores that will open at midnight on Black Friday. This selfishness continues to put a real fire in my belly.

Some may wonder why this is such a big deal to me and why I am raging about it. It is true that there are more egregious and unjust things that are happening in the world, and I am certainly not discounting any of those things, but this particular issue has to be addressed for the intended and unintended consequences that it will certainly yield.

The move to open stores on Thanksgiving is entirely money-driven. And that is just it. These businesses do not take into consideration ANYTHING but profits and competitive advantage. They do not take into consideration people, families, relationships, or communities in general. Moms and dads, sisters and brothers, cousins and uncles and aunts are robbed of a day when thanks is given around the family table with loved ones.

Any other time on any other day I might agree with decisions of a business when it comes to lawful decisions they make in regard to employee work hours and employee work schedules. I get it. People are at-will employees. If they don’t like it… they can quit.

As a business, you may even make the point that customer demand for opening earlier warrants your decision to open on Thanksgiving. While I agree that sound decision-making by many customers is not a collective strength, so at least part of the blame ought to be levied against the customer, YOU still have an obligation (and opportunity) to do what is right for your employees and for our communities.

Here is the thing.

You take and you take and you take. You creep and inch into every part of life that we consider important, valuable, and maybe even sacred. And your employees CAN’T say no when you tell them that they are going to work on Thanksgiving… because the economy sucks and they can’t afford to get fired for refusing to work. AND THEY DON’T HAVE A VOICE to stand up to your decision. What are they going to do? What are they going to say? Absolutely nothing. Because they can’t. If they don’t like it they can find another job, right?

Yes… you are the employer and you can make any decision that you want. But when your decisions begin to strip away the very humanity of the people who work on your behalf and continue to negatively transform the values of the communities on which you depend for your business… you need to realize that not all good decisions are about the all-mighty dollar or the bottom-line.

Good decisions also take into consideration the people… the individuals… the human beings who work for you. Good decisions also take into account the future implications of your decisions and what they are doing to our communities. Businesses have an obligation to be good corporate citizens… and every business that continues to impose it’s corporate strategy and their desire to prioritize profits over people, families, and communities is not a good corporate citizen. And that is why I despise what you are doing.

Once you take a step into opening your stores on Thanksgiving… you have set a precedent that will only cause others to follow suit. A couple of stores last year… even more this year. It is becoming the new norm by which we live and operate. The infringement on everything we hold dear to us as a society will continue to waste away and vanish because of your greed.

And before we know it… Thanksgiving will become just another day when families are torn apart while rushing out to the next ‘Beat the Rush’ sale… only to stand in line eating a McCheeseburger behind their carts piled high with over-commercialized garbage that they will donate to Goodwill next month. And it will be at the cost of your employees simply wishing (and deserving) a day to sit around the table with family, telling stories, and thanking God for another year. It will be at the cost of our communities losing a day, even if it is just one day, to take a breath together and reflect on our blessings and how thankful we are to be alive and to have each other.

If you agree with this post… please pass it along to other people and to business owners. Let’s stand up, not just for those who are being forced to work during Thanksgiving, but let’s stand up for the heart and soul of our families and communities.

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14 Comments on “goodbye Thanksgiving…”

  1. Aaron (@voluntaryaaron) November 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    Lately I’ve thought some about this, really the overall Thanksgiving/Christmas season, and the traditional liturgical calendar and advent. We’ve thrown away the Feast of St. Martin from the 4th century for Thanksgiving, both are similar, but one was celebrating and then you’d prepare for the relative fast of Advent. With Thanksgiving now it seems about making it as easy and mass produced as possible, watching Football, then setting the alarm early for black Friday. There is no sense of harvest or bounty and preparation for both winter and Advent. We’ve largely thrown out the Liturgical calendar and Advent, and it’s eschatology, in favor of American culture. Skipping right to Christmas instead of a forward looking towards Christmas. Our Churches largely reflect this as well, worried about keeping Thanksgiving with respect to blessings, and Christ in Christmas, but largely throwing away the history of the Church in the process.

    • brandonandress November 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      you are exactly right. and the burden of the Liturgical calendar sits squarely on us as the Church. we have blown it.

      The heart of my post (hopefully) is to stand up for people (the workers) who don’t have a voice in this. in many ways… there is almost a feeling of Isaiah crying out to the employers in Israel about how they have neglected their workers.

      hopefully this will just add to the public discourse.

      peace bro…

      brandon

  2. Aaron (@voluntaryaaron) November 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    Absolutely, your concerns should be a burden to the church to consider. I didn’t want to take away from your point in my comments, just add what’s been on my mind lately as it intersects this discussion.

  3. brandonandress November 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Reblogged this on brandonandress and commented:

    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  4. Auntie_M November 16, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    While I hate that stores are open on Thanksgiving, I lay much of the fault at the feet of the consumers who are willing to leave their families in order to go out shopping on a day when they should be home with family & friends…. I think it is a sad commentary on the breakdown of the family–not simply one of corporate greed: if there were no shoppers, they wouldn’t bother with the expense of opening their stores. But the shoppers are there, so they open their doors. I avoid ALL shopping Thanksgiving weekend (Thurs-Sun). I don’t like the crowds and I prefer to spend that time with my family–many of whom have flown in from other states. And frankly, gifts aren’t such a big part of our Christmas holiday that we would want to go out into that chaos. Adults in our family don’t exchange gifts: the money we do have is spent on gifts for the kids and on a special (and slightly extravegant) dinner where the family once again gathers around the table.

  5. Marcia K. November 16, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

    mammon…

  6. Logan November 17, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    This is painfully astute. I have to ask, how much of this development is simply the next logical step in a culture that so markedly worships the self? We take and we take, we creep and inch our will over those around us, our decisions are entirely greed-driven–let us achieve what we want. What’s it going to take for us to lay down our lives?

    • brandonandress November 17, 2012 at 11:30 am #

      the other day my daughter asked me why some religions have rules about not doing anything on Saturday/Sunday. I told her that it is not so much “rules” as much as a gift from God to give us rest in the natural rhythm of our lives. after I told her that I started thinking about how, when I was young, businesses would close on Sundays. it was a very natural, normal, and expected part of our culture. yes… even 30 year ago… we still had a day of rest that our culture (for the most part) observed. the creeping and the inching has only sped up since then. is Thanksgiving necessarily a “sacred” holiday? no… not at all. BUT IT IS something as a culture that causes us to pause, reflect, and enjoy the most important things in life. at some point we have to draw some sort of line in the sand. had I been older 30 years ago… I would likely have been writing about the tragedy of consumerism devouring a Sabbath rest.

  7. Steeny Lou February 1, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Hello? Are you still using this blog? I left a brief comment about Thanksgiving a few days ago but it’s not showing up.

    • Steeny Lou February 1, 2013 at 11:45 am #

      Oh, wow, that’s weird – my comment just showed up instantly, no moderation required. Hmm.

      • brandonandress February 1, 2013 at 11:49 am #

        wow that is really bizarre!

    • brandonandress February 1, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      definitely! sorry about that. I saw that you liked the post… but for some reason your comment didn’t come through. I hate it when that happens! thanks for reading it and trying to comment though. peace… brandon

      • Steeny Lou February 1, 2013 at 11:50 am #

        Ah, good to know. I’ve been having some problems with my WordPress blog in that sometimes legitimate comments, even from those who have commented before, get thrown into the S-p-a-m folder. (I don’t know if it’s okay to say that word lest it become bait for those who are behind the sending of that type of annoyance mail).

  8. Steeny Lou February 1, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Anyway, my comment was to the effect of Thanksgiving being my favorite holiday, and that I don’t involve myself with the commercial holidays, which, in my opinion, are not “holy days”.

    I think I figured out why my post did not go through the first time: Just now, I tried to share a link for a blog entry where I’d touched on my feelings about so-called holidays.

    In my original post to you, I had also tried to share that link. Maybe we are not allowed to share links in WordPress comments?

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