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Old Things That Are Tough To Explain: Stores Were Closed All Day on Major Holidays

November 25, 2018

Maybe some things are more important during a holiday than family. (image via wikimedia)

A few years ago, my television broke down on the morning of a major holiday, and I had to wait until the next day to buy a new one.  It wasn’t that big of a deal.

My wife and I had an extra television to get us through the holiday.  Even so, when we drove around (we lived in a major city) looking for a possible store that was open on the holiday, we couldn’t find anything, at least nothing that sold new televisions.

We weren’t angry.  We understood.  Everybody should have the day off on certain major holidays, even people who work for stores that sell televisions.  That’s how it was.  Back then, convenience stores and gas stations were the only things open on major holidays.  Nowadays, if you wait long enough, almost all the major stores are open.

Open stores can be annoying for the employees (unless they want the extra hours/pay), but shopping provides a relief for people who don’t like being stuck with their families.  In the old days, families got together for the entire holiday (or longer).  That was fine if everybody got along.  But if not, the holiday could be brutally long.

Holidays were also tough for the introverted or anti-social family members, who had to sit quietly amongst the drinking/singing/squabbling/jabbering of others and watch the time move (back then all clocks had second hands that you could actually watch move).  The alternative to watching time move was to find a quiet location, but then family members would talk about you behind your back and that would make you paranoid.  It’s okay to be paranoid about the government or institutions that want to control our lives, but it’s not healthy to be paranoid about your own family.

When I was a kid, I just sat and stared during holiday gatherings.  Smart phones didn’t even exist, so I had nothing to stare at.  I had an imagination, so I came up with stories in my head, but I couldn’t write them down because that would have been considered rude.  Reading and writing during a gathering was rude back then, but reading and writing on a phone is considered normal now.

If I’d had a phone to stare at during family gatherings, I would have been fine.  People shouldn’t need stores on major holidays now because they have phones to stare at.  If anybody needed stores to be open on holidays, it was pre-smart phone generations.

The good thing about shopping on a holiday is that it can split the family up.  Families that are stuck together all day can argue too much and make holidays unpleasant.  Some families can’t stand being confined in one house during a major holiday.  The house might be too small.  The family might not get along.  Someone in the family might be starting political fights.

For whatever reason, family members need to get out.  The open stores give the family something to do right when everybody is tired of being around each other.   If major stores are open, then families can get out and get along better.

The bad side of shopping on a holiday is that it can bring chaos to what’s supposed to be a peaceful day.  Holidays were meant for people to relax/celebrate and get away from the daily routine.  Now it seems like the daily routine gets intensified.  Maybe that’s by design.

I blame Crazy Friday.  I know some people use another term for Crazy Friday, but I refuse to inject color into it.  That certain Friday is often associated with crazy behavior like shopping in the middle of the night, and coordinating family members from store-to-store, and getting into mob fights.  If Crazy Friday had limited itself to Crazy Friday, everything would have been okay.

But crazy people are never satisfied.  They always want to spread the craziness.  They never leave the normal people alone.  And then the crazy people call the normal people crazy.

Crazy Friday got extended when stores started opening late on the Thursday before Crazy Friday.  This day before Crazy Friday used to be a holiday where nobody worked.  But Crazy Friday was considered more important than the holiday.  Now that the Thursday before Crazy Friday is safe for shopping, no holiday will be safe.  And the hours will increase.  Soon every store will be open on every holiday, which will mean holidays will no longer really be holidays, except for rich people and government employees.

Rich people will  always have holidays.  I’m pretty sure the vast majority of rich people don’t have to work during the holiday sales.  So if you don’t like working on a major holiday, complaining about it might not be enough.  You might just have to become rich.

If you try to tell your boss that holidays were originally meant for celebrating with your family/community (and despite what your employer might say, your job is NOT your family/community), your boss might look at you funny.  The concept of stores closing all day during the holidays might be difficult to explain some day.


For more about old things that are tough to explain, read Old Things That Are Tough To Explain: Why Did So Many People Smoke Cigarettes?

From → Pop culture

  1. I will never ever say anythng but crazy Friday, in any language.

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