One Thanksgiving many years ago, D and I made the long trek to visit my extended family- my very large extended family. In my family, there are two large Thanksgiving get-togethers every year, each in different states. Each get-together consists of forty plus people. There is always one table with the “main” food and appetizers and at least two tables with dessert, as it is custom for each family to bring a homemade dessert. It is also custom that Thanksgiving “dinner” actually starts at 2PM and lasts until at least 8PM.
This was D’s first time meeting my extended family. We walked in the door and ten people greeted us with hugs and kisses on the cheek. Though I warned him, D was in a bit of shock. His family is…let’s say, not this way. My family is honest, loud, rambunctious, and sometimes even raunchy. This is what I know of family. It’s not that one way of being a family together on the holidays is better over another; we all have our own ways of being together and appreciating each other.
After D became accustomed to the difference in family styles, he happily started heated debates with my not-easily-offended family members and after that year, happily drove hundreds of miles to continue in this ritual Thanksgiving event with me. It was this year that I was especially happy and appreciative to be a part of my family. It was this year that I realized that there is something about being blood relatives that makes a connection different somehow.
A year later, D and I made the trip to the big Thanksgiving event again. This time, just as we had filled our plate and were sitting down to start some heated debates, D got a phone call from work. Being the only IT guy in his specific division, he was essentially on call at all times. He spent from that moment until the end of Thanksgiving “dinner” at his computer fixing a work “emergency.” He was frustrated and I was sad…and angry at the same time. Angry that on Thanksgiving- the one day we have devoted to being with family and giving thanks- he was stripped of his ability to relax, to enjoy life. He was imprisoned by his computer, by his phone, and his job.
I understand there are emergencies in life that often happen at the worst times. I understand that there are life or death situations that require immediate attention- during holidays or not. I understand having someone who has to work for time-sensitive tasks. However, most work “emergencies” in general are not true emergencies. And is it worth forcing people to give up their time with family, their time to relax and not worry about being called in general, their time to be thankful in order for them to provide a large company with slightly more money (while the people making the big bucks in the company enjoy meals with their family, no less)?
D has since acquired a job where his company better understands the need for time with family, time for relaxation, and time to be thankful in life. However, not nearly enough people (in America especially) have this luxury. So many people working in retail and many other non-emergency-related jobs are now being forced to give up their time to relax, to enjoy family, and to be thankful in order to make some more bucks for the big shots in big companies. I know others feel differently, but having experienced so many nights and so many vacations ruined by D’s work, I can say it is a horrible feeling to have no reserved, unimpeded time for a sanctified day of rest, of thanks, of love. I am also disturbed that this is becoming the norm. I am disturbed that there seems to be a higher value placed on consuming, on corporate giants and their overflowing wallets over making connections with friends and family. And I am disturbed that some people are continuing to support these efforts to make the work/life line even more unbalanced for others.
Please consider whose Thanksgiving (and specifically future holidays) you are effecting through your actions this year.