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. )

Put Up Or Shut Up = Mommy or Yoda?

I‘ve been thinking a lot lately about the conflict between the two different schools of thought regarding goals and the effort it takes to meet them.  One is represented by the inspirational saying “Shoot for the moon – you may land among the stars.”  Remember your mother saying “I don’t care if you succeed – only that you try your best”?  These statements represent the idea that it is the effort that matters, and that a strong effort  IS the success, or at least brings some kind of success. I’ll call it the “Mommy” school.

The second school of thought is the Yoda school, illustrated by his statement: “Do or do not. There is no try.”  Remember  Gene Kranz in the movie Apollo 13?  “Failure is not an option.”  Either the Apollo 13 astronauts returned safely or they didn’t.  Advocates believe that it is failure, and/or the fear of it, that will keep you from achieving success, and that only completeness represents achievement.

So which one of those ideas should prevail if I am examining my 2010 Put Up Or Shut Up  goals, originally posted on Victorio Milian’s Creative Chaos blog?  Here is what I Put Up a year or so ago:

  • I will step up my efforts with SHRM, local and national, to improve the HR community and help increase collaboration among members.
  • I will do something every day that helps me develop professionally – attend a webinar or conference, write a blog, read or write a white paper, etc.
  • I will become a more active networker – phone calls, Skype, etc. This is the hardest part of all for me because I am kind of shy!

Here is what I did with each:

1.  I volunteered for my local SHRM communications committee, and became a regular contributor to their newsletter. I also started encouraging members to become aware of HR bloggers and I continue to publish a feature called “5 to Follow” in our local newsletter, suggesting blogs.  I have regularly contributed to the group on LinkedIn.  My efforts to get the local more involved in Twitter, though, have completely failed. I have offered to run free classes for members, and have offered suggestions for the chapter to use and get involved in Twitter.  All of those efforts have been rebuffed outright. Nationally, I went to the SHRM Legislative/Legal update in Washington, DC and made some new connections, but haven’t done much else at the national level.

2.  Okay, I admit to not actually doing something every day.  BUT – on some days I do several things.  I clearly do far more, overall, than I did before I made the pledge.   I have done enough to earn about 80% of my SPHR recert requirements in just one year.  I repeat, though, I don’t do something every day.

3.  I have developed my network greatly, and my network is about 3  times larger than it was a year ago.  It certainly could be better, and it could be more diverse, and it could have more local people.  I am still finding it hard to connect with people locally, even though I have made some special local efforts.

Do  you now see my conflict? Did I fail, because there isn’t one item that couldn’t have been achieved more completely?  The Yoda school seems to say I failed.  The Mommy school, on the other hand, might argue  that I had sufficient success because I tried quite hard.  I may not have reached the moon, but I probably reached the stars.

I’m repeating these goals for 2011, so maybe that’s the answer; if I hadn’t failed, my goals would be entirely new.  What do you think, though?  Which school of thought is more relevant? Or reasonable? Or sensible?  Did I fail or succeed?  Have you been faced with the same choice?  Use the comments to tell me!

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