Let’s get this straight: Thanksgiving is a federal holiday, which means that all levels of government and public offices are closed. And in the state of Tennessee, the day after Thanksgiving is also a holiday so these same offices are closed that day, too. Except for hospitals, firefighters, police officers and other workers that are necessary to keep society safe for the holiday, no one should be required to work on a federal holiday.
But that’s not the status quo.
Restaurants, grocery stores, clothing stores, toy stores and even Dollywood are going to be open this Thanksgiving. Millions of people will not be able to spend the holiday with their family (or even just relaxing) because the dominant part of society cannot live without these amusements for one day or simply must begin their Christmas shopping a month early.
This is disgusting.
Planning Thanksgiving around patronizing any of these businesses is inconsiderate to the people who must come to work, smile and pretend to care about making others’ holiday special (while the customers they interact with so obviously don’t care that the workers’ holiday has been ruined).
To make it worse, many of those who are required to work on Thanksgiving are in positions that are likely to only pay minimum wage. That means that an employee who works an eight-hour shift on Thanksgiving could earn only $58 that day (less than that after taxes).
As awkward as that special turkey dinner can be on a presidential election year, I would never sell that time with my family for $58. And I won’t do anything that contributes to the system that forces others to do so.
And it’s not just Thanksgiving, I also refuse to visit any shops on Black Friday. This time last year, I was a sales associate at a clothing store, and the dread of Black Friday ruined my Thanksgiving. There are horror stories about people so desperate to own something they do not really need, and staring down this abject consumerism is one of my worst nightmares.
Instead, I will be celebrating Buy Nothing Day on Friday, Nov. 25. Buy Nothing Day is an international day of protest against consumerism that is celebrated on the day after Thanksgiving. Methods of protest include dressing as a zombie and walking around a shopping mall, creating a conga line of shopping carts in supermarkets and standing in a shopping mall and offering to cut up others’ credit cards.
Though these ring of extremism, I will be participating in the protest by simply buying nothing. Instead, I will enjoy the things I already have and hope that someday this protest grows so that everyone will be able to enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday.