I feel compelled to address a misconception that I currently see raging online and in the media: that businesses “should” be closed on holidays.

I constantly see praise for companies which are “doing the right thing” by closing on a holiday (Thanksgiving, for example) so that their employees can “celebrate the holiday and spend time with their families.”

This sounds all well and good, and it’s easy to praise such a company for “thinking about its employees and their families” and “doing the right thing,” but it is, as usual, just another example of groupthink and collectivism, rather than considering what actually benefits the individuals involved.

What advocates for this idea need to understand is this: by forcing businesses to close on holidays—be it by law or simply by public pressure—they are actually hurting many people, rather than helping them.

Throughout most of my life, I didn’t (and still don’t for the most part) celebrate many holidays, primarily because I have no traditional “family” with which to celebrate them. My brothers and I weren’t raised in the kind of family environment that would prompt us to long for reunion during holidays, or other special occasions. Family gatherings, when unavoidable, were usually stressful, if not excruciating. Not something most of us looked forward to.

And as an adult, I’ve been single most of my life, and have no children, so I still have no traditional family with which to spend traditional holidays.

So, I’ve usually elected to work instead—and was usually happy to do so! Why so? Simple: many businesses pay higher wages—overtime or even double-time—for working on a holiday; and tip-based jobs were particularly lucrative, because not only was business usually very heavy on holidays due to many others being closed, but also because tips, obviously, were better as well—usually extremely generous—on holidays. There was good money to be made!

In many cases, the company would simply ask for volunteers to work, or post a sign-up sheet, and those who wanted to work the holiday could, and those who wanted to take the holiday off, could. In fact, many times I actually had to compete with my co-workers for the opportunity to work the holiday, because we all knew how lucrative it would be to work that day, and the signup sheet was first come, first served. We hurried to get our hats in the ring.

So working the holiday was, contrary to popular belief, a win-win-win for myself and my co-workers, the company, and our patrons; I was able to keep busy, rather than sit home wishing I had something to do and somebody to do it with, and I usually made good money to boot; the company could stay open, operate with (at least mostly) volunteer workers, and turn a profit rather than lose money on that day; and the patrons had someplace to go if they, like many of us, had nobody to celebrate the holiday with, or simply wanted to get out of the house, or go shopping, or simply wanted to enjoy a meal without doing the prep, cooking, and cleanup.

The best solution for everyone is (as always) to allow each individual to decide for themselves what they want to do. If business owners want to be open on a holiday, if workers want to work on a holiday, and if patrons want to shop or dine on a holiday—then where’s the problem? I don’t see one.

People need to stop assuming that just because they see others doing something they don’t do or wouldn’t want to do, that it’s necessarily a bad thing, and thus should be stopped, or banned, or outlawed.

And before anyone says that many people are forced to work on holidays, rather than wanting to work, remember: even if a business is open on holidays, and even if workers don’t want to work, but are required to work on those holidays—employment is voluntary; these requirements of the job are stipulated during the hiring process, and agreed to by the applicants prior to their acceptance of the position. If the company is open on holidays, and requires its employees to be available to work on those days, and the applicant doesn’t wish to work holidays, for whatever reason—then it’s up to them to decline the position and seek employment elsewhere.

And we can take this even further yet: Say the employee was not informed, at the time of hiring, that working on holidays was mandatory; or say they were promised by a boss or manager they would get the holiday off, but ended up being scheduled to work anyway; or, say the employee simply decided, as the holiday approached, that they were not, after all, willing to work that day. Then their choice is still a simple one: they can choose not to work by quitting or risking being terminated, or they can choose to work, and not quit or risk being terminated. And as far as I know, nobody gets assaulted, or shot, or arrested for quitting their job. So working the holiday is still a voluntary choice made by the employee.

So no matter how you slice it, people who work on a holiday are doing so voluntarily: they either do as I did—choose to work the holiday because they have nothing better to do, and want or need the extra income; or they chose to accept the job during the interview process, knowing that they will be required to work the holiday; or they choose to keep the job rather than quit or be fired if they decide they don’t want to work the holiday after all. So everybody who works a holiday has chosen, in one way or the other, to do so.

Not to mention that businesses that are open throughout the holidays typically hire extra workers to help out during those busy times. And again, people are eager to take those jobs in order to make a little extra money, or even because they are unemployed and need the work. Perhaps it’s the only way they can provide Christmas for their kids. Whatever the reason, they’re doing it because they want to, or it’s in some way in their best interest to do so. 

And it all translates to a stronger economy for everyone.

Pretty simple; but of course, liberty usually is.

I would recommend that if people truly want to enhance their family life, and better enjoy the holidays, then rather than directing their dissent toward businesses and their employees—who operate and work voluntarily, even on holidays—they should direct their dissent toward the state, which steals up to half their income by force, drives the cost of living ever higher, and perpetually devalues what portion of their income they DO manage keep via the printing press.

Ending all that would truly help all of us—not just some of us—and would make all of our holidays, and life in general, much more enjoyable.

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