While I agree that Thanksgiving (as well as Christmas) is for family, I work as a nurse and as you know, hospitals are open 24/7...we have holiday commitments that we have to make. Who feels sorry for us when we are working Thanksgiving day? Or night shift the night before or the night of? Christmas Eve or morning? I don't feel sorry for myself because it's what I signed up for, but the same goes for the employees who choose to stay employed at a retail store who starts opening on Thanksgiving, if they don't want to do it they can choose another job. Or find someone who doesn't care about working the holiday to work for them if they're not scheduled. I do think it sucks that they are doing this, but I don't necessarily feel sorry for those working on the holiday - hopefully they will get extra pay for it like time and a half.
First I want to say thank you and that I DO appreciate you working on the holidays. As the mom of a child who has spent Thanksgiving AND Christmas in the hospital, I truly respect and appreciate the doctors and nurses who worked those shifts. I feel the same about those who are committed to our safety (fire, police, etc.).
The rest is not all addressed to you personally, the following are my personal views on the whole topic:
With that being said, those are ESSENTIAL services! We are talking about shopping; a total non-essential activity. Many of those retail employees are not able to find other employment (I have friends who were 'downsized' from their careers and have been unemployed for years). I worked at one of the big retailers a few years ago; we signed a contract that stated we would be available for any and all shifts assigned to us beginning with Black Friday. If you did not show up for your shift, you were fired. If you asked for it off, you were most likely fired (depends on what manager you asked, some would not fire you, but would then schedule you for 12 hours on the day you wanted off).
I am truly saddened for our society that does not treasure family time like they used to. I am glad that many of you have flexible schedules and family members that will allow you to go out if you like (I still don't like that others have to work it though). However, some families are not as flexible.
I will also add that I went out last year; not at the start, I headed out after midnight...just to see...I was shocked at how many exhausted people were out! I mean screaming babies, people who had obviously been up for hours...many of whom had obviously been drinking...and not to mention the herds of teenagers with no respect for little old ladies...
This will be the first year that I attempt to do online shopping because I truly am NOT going out on Thanksgiving.