There are jobs that have to be done on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every other day of the year. We need doctors and nurses and firefighters. Then there are jobs that could take a break for a day or—gasp—even a long weekend … but workers are forced to do them anyway every holiday and weekend day and personally meaningful day of the year, because profit. These are jobs where the workers aren’t given a choice, other than the choice between working on Thanksgiving or losing their jobs.
So if you’re lucky enough to be sitting down to a big Thanksgiving meal with your loved ones today, or for that matter if you’re Netflix bingeing or spending the day in silent meditation or sitting down to that big meal with people you consider a trial, take a moment to think about those who are forced to skip the holiday to work. Take a moment also to think about people who can’t afford the big meal with turkey and all the trimmings—and remember that many of the very same people working at Walmart and Target fall into that category, or barely escape it.
And take a moment to think about why that is. Again: profit. Or: capitalism.
If you’re thinking about heading out for a little shopping after dinner, remember that workers had to be there hours earlier. Remember that many of them don’t want to be there, even if they don’t feel able to speak out publicly or put their names to petitions saying so. And remember that common reasons to be glad to work the holiday include not getting paid holidays off of work, and being so underpaid that extra pay for working a holiday could mean the difference between paying the bills and not paying the bills.
Whatever Thanksgiving means to you, it shouldn’t be a symbol of the race to the bottom. If anything, it should be time to recommit yourself to the fight for everyone to get a (paid) holiday sometimes: for everyone to have the leisure and the budget to relax and celebrate and eat well.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.