I’m Thankful for People Who Work on Thanksgiving

For the first time in our 25 year marriage, my husband and I will be alone together on Thanksgiving. We will be over 1300 miles from our children and grandchildren, whose number is so large that I am usually required to roast two Thanksgiving turkeys. With just two of us to celebrate the holiday together this year, my Thanksgiving dinner solution was simple.

Eat out.

I live in Naples, Florida, which is mostly a resort town. People flock here from cold climates every November to April to enjoy the beaches and the golf courses. Winter holidays find the area packed with people who all have to eat, so restaurant dining options are plentiful on the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant gets prepared and served by employees. Working stiffs. Waitstaff and dishwashers and prep cooks – people working on the holiday.  I don’t know who will get to share the tip,  but I’ll leave a big one, because I will be thankful that their dedication to their jobs allows me to have a meal without worry and bother.

As a former police officer, I have worked a lot of Thanksgivings (and Christmases, etc.), usually responding to family fights at homes where too much liquor was consumed by too many relatives. So I can sympathize with people whose job forces them to bundle up their kids and ship them off with relatives for the day while they work, because I have been there and done it.

The author, around 1978
Me, around 1978, a working police officer.

I don’t sympathize too much with people who gripe about working on Thanksgiving, though, like the workers from Target. After all, police officers, medical personnel, hotel service, restaurant workers, football players and others* have been working the holiday for years. Everyone seems to have survived just fine.

Maybe the Target workers who are complaining about the loss of  “family time” should think about what they can be thankful for – and it’s not that they have a job. They can also be thankful for others that are working on Thanksgiving, like the police officers who show up  if there is a fistfight  in their store, or the ambulance driver who responds when a customer has a heart attack. These employees, and countless others, have sacrificed family time for years in order to serve the community, keeping it safe, happy, and entertained.

And serving the community is really what working on Thanksgiving is all about – no matter what your job is.

*(Movie theaters are generally open on Thanksgiving, staffed by workers. Here’s a great letter to Target workers about that. Thanks to author Matt Stollak, as well as Victorio Milian for inspiring this blog. )

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4 thoughts on “I’m Thankful for People Who Work on Thanksgiving”

  1. I remember that young officer in the picture and responding to those family fights on Christmas with her. I felt like it was a privilege to be doing what we were doing and was proud of it. Happy Thanksgiving from your former partner.

  2. I work for Target and I work at 8pm on Thanksgiving. I volunteered for that shift as many others who worked at my store. I can’t speak to every store, but I know that many managers have been asking employees to volunteer for the shifts that they wish to work. Most of the blacklash that I have seen and heard are from people who do not even work for the company. Now, I am not saying that every employee is happy about it…there are some people who do not like it. I have employees who say that they are will to change their hours if another employee would prefer to work another shift. This “backlash” is not from Target employees, it is from people who do not even work for the company. I am thankful to be employeed by a company for the last 11 years. This will be my 12th Black Friday event.
    I agree, that people need to put things in perspective that there are sooo many people like police officers, people in the medical field, gas station workers, and movie theater employees who work on holidays. We have military men and women who are never home for life’s events such as the births of their children, birthdays, holidays, and sometimes even a death in the family. There is so much more to be thankful for rather being upset about a shopping experience.

  3. Ron, I really, really, really appreciate you reading and weighing in. It’s great to hear from a retail employee who is directly affected by this whole brouhaha.

    We all want to be with our families or other special people on Thanksgiving. But life requires sacrifice sometimes. I sincerely hope you have loved ones to celebrate the holiday with, whether at noon or 3 days later.

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