As we approach Thanksgiving 2012, once again I try managing my expectations. Each November, a meal shared with family brings the entire nation together with common ingredients found stocked on most shelves in grocery stores or prepared in restaurants.
Every year, my big brother would invite me to New York City to share the holiday with him. I always look forward to meeting up with family, and my brother especially. Time together with the family, the people who have your back, and show support all year, is what makes me excited about Thanksgiving. My family is just like yours. We are not perfect. We care about each other despite distance, differences and economic circumstances.
Bottom line, Thanksgiving is all about family overcoming everyday roadblocks that make enjoying a moment together like a slice of lemon chess pie. It ends discussion, bickering and stupid stuff.
Hush the noise, because the food is good. Have a second slice after a nap, some music and fun.
Sit down and enjoy the smooth magic that a well prepared meal can have on an adult forced to sit at the children’s table of poverty wages, reduced or lack of health benefits and the granddaddy of them all: employment-at-will regulations, which will put the taste of the nastiest potato salad, coupled with flat beer, and grocery store made pumpkin pie in your mouth.
The reality that consumer greed has overtaken the essential reason for the holiday is apparent with Black Friday ads appearing a week before Thanksgiving, and stores pretending to have once-in-a-lifetime-this price-won’t-last sales to increase revenue.
I love a good sale. I hope to find one concerning a new pair of shoes, or a doll that I have wanted since I was a little girl. But, I would walk by a window filled with both (while sneaking a glance) on the way to meeting up with family for Thanksgiving dinner.
I want to dine on food supplied by workers that have been shown they are valued by their employers. I want to dine with family members that have not been demoralized by provisional working conditions or contracts that make living, and doing what they love a nightmare.
Employers do not have to follow the unprincipled rules ascribed to by Ebenezer Scrooge.
Thanksgiving is one day, and can be honored as a right of American citizens by honorable employers who say they believe in family values.
Employment contracts that are designed to gleefully and legally protect the interests of those who do not value their employees, see them as family members or American citizens, or reward them with salaries/benefits and time off to be at home on Thanksgiving or Christmas are agreements meant to disenfranchise, humiliate and reduce adults to members of the children’s table.
I have worked for at-will employers that bullied me on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with the health of my sanity–the security of my job. You put up with it because you have to work to pay the bills. You don’t complain when the same people manage to earn more time off or earn more than you. You think of the consequences and what it may mean to those counting on your income and health and persevere. You try to bank tears when you hear of others plans to meet up with their family, when all you really want to do is enjoy the day yourself, see a movie, go to Central Park and visit with the people who cherish you.
Each year when Thanksgiving arrives, you hope this will be the year that someone remembers the very workers serving dinner, or selling the ingredients at the grocery. This year, in solidarity with workers who toil without complaint during holidays, please buy your last-minute honey-dos the night before. The stores will stay open late.
On Thanksgiving, Christmas and all Beloved Holidays, stay home with family and enjoy each other. Families that were already hurting from systemic structural violence, are still without heat, adequate shelter or access to the goodies we take for granted on these holidays, yet they look forward to them.
This Thanksgiving let us be thankful for family members here and abroad that pray and work toward peace. Let us be grateful to those who will stand and protect peace for all and the health of the home.