Rolling with Stone

By Jessi Stone Guide editor | Nov 27, 2013

I am thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving. I have my health, a job I love, a supportive husband, wonderful family and plenty of new and old friends.

But I’m probably most thankful this time of year that I don’t work in retail anymore. For five years throughout college and after graduation I worked at Target. It meant being at work by 5 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to take care of the Black Friday shoppers.

I can vividly remember standing in front of the electronics counter with a sales ad in hand and watching the stampede of deal seekers rushing toward me when the doors opened at 6 a.m. — it’s really a terrifying experience. There wasn’t a second to take a breath until my shift was over. But besides a few irate shoppers trying to put a damper on the day, it really wasn’t that bad.

While my retail days are now a distant memory, Black Friday is still a reality for my husband Matt who works at Best Buy in Asheville. And now Black Friday has morphed into Black Thanksgiving as Best Buy joins several other retailers that are opening the doors on Thursday. He will be working 5 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday then he will come back Friday night to close the store.

I must admit I was infuriated when I first found out — outraged that businesses would make their employees work on such a big holiday. How dare they take away a day that we typically travel to spend time with our families! After stewing on it for a while my rational thinking returned and I remembered this is not new. Many people have to work on Thanksgiving outside of the retail world and there hasn’t been an outcry like the one heard this year.

Many people will not see their loved ones on Thanksgiving or Christmas because they have to work. I can’t help but thinking of a friend of mine who celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas all in one week in early November because her soldier fiancé was being deployed again to Afghanistan. And then I feel horrible for complaining.

At least I will see my husband and mom for an early homemade Thanksgiving lunch. I will know all my family members are safe and sound while my friend will be wondering what her fiancé is doing and hoping he will return home safely in six months to a year.

So let’s be thankful for the blessings we do have and try not to dwell on the things we don’t have — that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for after all. I personally don’t think any deal is worth waiting in line for overnight, and I’m definitely against stores opening on Thanksgiving, but it won’t stop others from doing it.

I understand that Black Friday shopping has become a tradition for some families just as important as a turkey. But I would like to offer a little advice to these determined shoppers. Be courteous to each other and to the employees who are spending their holiday helping you. Don’t push or fight over an item. Don’t get mad if a store is out of something you wanted. Set a budget and don’t just buy things because they are on sale.

And lastly, let’s remember that the true meaning of Christmas does not revolve around expensive gifts anyway. Looking back on my childhood, I only remember a handful of Christmas gifts but what I hold most precious are all the wonderful memories of spending the holidays with family. They were filled with warmth, laughs and lots of love. Those are the traditions I want to pass on to my children one day.

For those who don’t want to leave home Thursday or Friday, I hope you explore the Shop Local Saturday special in this week’s Guide and find the perfect gifts right here in Haywood County.

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