Tony Dobrowolski | Out of The Pages: One Thanksgiving is better than two

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PITTSFIELD >> I've always liked Thanksgiving, but it became confusing during the years that I was required to celebrate the holiday twice.

Let me explain. I went to college in Canada, which has its own Thanksgiving Day. But their holiday doesn't coincide with ours, and it's not in November.

Canadian Thanksgiving occurs in early October, on the same day that we celebrate Columbus Day. For someone who always associated Thanksgiving with cold, crisp weather, football games, the start of Christmas shopping season, and the beginning of a long holiday weekend, Thanksgiving in early October can be jarring.

Even though it gets cold in Canada fairly quickly after Labor Day, it doesn't feel like Thanksgiving in early October. The weather is still pretty warm. The leaves are still on the trees. We're in the middle of football season not at the end.

You still get the day off, but it's on a Monday not a Thursday, which means Thanksgiving is at the end of a long weekend, not at the beginning. That makes Canadian Thanksgiving feel like any other three-day weekend, not something special.

Everything just feels weird and out of place like waterskiing on Christmas Day, or playing ice hockey on the Fourth of July.

The one plus to having Thanksgiving in early October is that there is no Black Friday, so the maniacal rush to get started on the Christmas shopping season doesn't happen. All the stores are closed. Lines don't start forming at shopping malls by mid-afternoon like they do here. People aren't pitching tents in parking lots and sidewalks, or running around in pajamas. They actually get to enjoy the entire day.

In Canada, the Christmas shopping season comes more gradually, although it's usually in full-swing by the time our Thanksgiving rolls around. By that time there's usually snow on the ground, so it feels more like the holiday, too. And, it's almost always cold by then.

That leads to another paradox. Because you're in Canada, there's no lead-up to Thanksgiving in November like there is here. The holiday is barely noticeable at all, except on American television stations.

Is that good or bad? I don't know. But it's definitely different.

Count your blessings

State law prevents retail stores from opening on Thanksgiving Day in Massachusetts, and this year those who work in that field should be grateful.

According to Bloomberg's annual survey of U.S. employers, 36 percent of all organizations stated that they would have at least some employees working on the holiday itself this year. The survey included 133 employers.

That percentage is three percent higher than last year, but roughly the same as it was in 2013 (37 percent), and 2012 (36 percent).

Other survey results:

Employees who are responsible for public safety, security or maintenance are the most likely to work on Thanksgiving Day, which will be the same in Massachusetts as everywhere else. The public safety and security sector has the highest percentage scheduled to work at 14 percent, followed by service and maintenance and technicians, both at 13 percent.

Managers, however, will mostly likely get to enjoy the holiday. Only nine percent of organizations have managers scheduled to work on Thanksgiving.

Employees who do work on Thanksgiving will most likely receive additional financial compensation. Eighty two percent of employers — more than four out of five that were surveyed — stated they would provide extra pay and/or leave for those drawing Thanksgiving Day duty, up from 74 percent last year.

Seventy nine percent of the workers at organizations with under 1,000 employees — nearly eight in 10 — have scheduled paid holidays for their workers on both Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

Tony Dobrowolski is the business editor of The Berkshire Eagle. He can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com.


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