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Friday, May 24, 2013

This sign is outside of Publix.  About a week before any federal holiday rolls around, these signs are placed outside of each store and every time I have walked by them in the past they always read something like "Publix will be closed in observance of Easter/Christmas/Independence Day/etc." until today.  Maybe the stores have been open on Memorial Day since the first day of operation and I never noticed, or maybe this is something new.  Regardless of what is the truth, I take issue with it.

Consumerism is a powerful beast that has been causing us to forget the meaning and traditions behind the holidays we should be setting aside.  I am only twenty-seven years old, but when I was a child, I remember most businesses being closed on holidays.  Every holiday was spent at my grandparents' house and besides a stray gas station, nothing was open.  Nothing.  Maybe the practice of businesses being closed on holidays lasted a little longer in the south than other places, or maybe this was a national occurance all at once.  I may never know, but I fear the point is being missed.

I spent five years of my life in a management position in the golf industry.  Anyone who does not play golf or have a golfer in their family is probably not aware that golf courses are open every single holiday on the calendar besides Christmas Day.  Most golf courses are closed one day each week for maintenance, which is generally Monday, but can vary depending upon management.  That is, unless a federal holiday happens to fall on a Monday/maintenance day, then the course will be open.  I worked them, all of them. 
This is a rundown of federal holidays:

I was told when I first started working in golf that the reason golf courses are open every holiday is because people are off work and have nothing else to do; so they come out to play, which makes money for the club and puts money in my pocket.  Holiday pay?  No.  I was never given a dime of it.  I remember when I was in the pro-shop, talking to the assistant golf professional (who is my witness to this actually occurring) on a Friday afternoon when a member walked in and said he wanted to make a tee time for the following Monday.  The day was not open for booking on the computer and those days are usually opened in the system two weeks in advance, so the assistant golf professional told the member we were not open that day.  His reply?  "How can you not be open on Monday?!  It's a national holiday!"  Columbus Day, specifically.  This encounter lead to an angry email from this man to upper management, which meant we had to be open that Monday.  I had to rearrange schedules, full staff had to be brought in for each department, and we had less than twenty people play golf that day.   

You see, even being as young as I am, I remember when holidays meant you spent time with your family and/or friends.  Anything you had to do or needed to buy was taken care of the day before because everyone knew retail stores had a sense of pride and honor about our nation's holidays and would not be open.  But somewhere down the road, some type of business decided to get an edge on the market by being open on a holiday, so all of its competitors followed suit.  Golf courses are forced to be open on holidays because the golf course down the road is open;  the same principal as retail follows.  Restaurants?  They follow the same guidelines.  Now we have stores and other businesses opening on Thanksgiving Day, right at dinner time, when five years ago, they were opening at midnight the day following.  Why?  Because we chase and spend that almighty dollar.  As Americans, we just do not seem to care anymore.  

I cannot blame the businesses entirely, because it is as much our fault as theirs.  If we did not spend money on holidays and create a demand for the market, everything would still be closed on such days as they were just a few years ago.  I think we should all have the chance to enjoy holidays with our families and friends as they were intended to be from their inception instead of working like any other day.  People would always say "If you don't want to work on holidays, find a different job."  but when more and more industries are kept open on holidays with each passing year, that job is becoming more difficult to come by.  Many people are not given the opportunity to have holidays as were given just a workforce generation ago.  Whether or not those in the working world make the choice of specific celebration, they are still recognized as days of reflection by our country; as the country we are.

I understand there are environments that cannot just shut down for an entire day; law enforcement, hospitals, emergency crews, EMC's, airports, hotels, etc.  I appreciate the job that each of them do because we would all be stuck in the stone age for twenty-four hours and numerous people would die if not for them, so thank you.  But I do think that unless someone's life depends upon your job, holidays should be observed and respected as they were intended. 

Why?  The federal holidays all signify something and are set aside for a reason, and even if we do not personally believe in those reasons, taking a day off to recognize and appreciate those significant events in history holds a certain sense of pride.

Maybe I am just old fashioned in my thinking, but I miss the days when nothing was open for business on holidays and everyone just sort of came together and bonded because there was literally nothing else to do, if not to celebrate the day itself, to simply celebrate each other.  

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Grace and Peace,   -Drew
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/drew.silvers
YouTube:  http://www.youtube.com/drewcoustic
Email:  drewcoustic@gmail.com

The lyrics in the title of this blog are from this song:



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