CON: Holiday sales infringe on valuable family time

Carolina Astrain By Carolina Astrain

Nov. 18, 2012 at 5:18 a.m.
Updated Nov. 19, 2012 at 5:19 a.m.

For many, the holidays are a time to patch up issues between family members and make amends.

Thanksgiving, in particular, is a holiday that celebrates unity and gratitude for others.

For area retail employees at Wal-Mart, Target and Sears, those moments of thanks will be reduced by about five hours Thanksgiving afternoon.

Target employee Cody Martinez said he feels bad for parents working the holiday, although he welcomes his Black Friday holiday paycheck.

"Their kids won't get the same experiences others will," Martinez said.

Employees at Wal-Mart Super Center will clock in about 7 p.m. and work through the wee hours of the morning.

"Turkey for breakfast just ain't going to work," said Wal-Mart sales associate Rebecca Whittle.

Whittle also added working holidays is nothing new for Wal-Mart employees.

"It's just business as usual," Whittle said.

The way Americans are balancing work and family time has changed during the past generation, University of Houston-Victoria psychologist Jesus Aros said.

"We're looking at a shift in the idea that there is just one breadwinner in the family," Aros said. "There's a revolution happening in the way nuclear and extended families communicate with each other."

While some critics would just tell unhappy workers to leave their jobs, most don't have the financial freedom to do so, Aros added.

"At this point, the family has an important decision to make," Aros said. "Is there a way out of this, or are we stuck?"

The workplace has taken dominance over the family in the past few years, the psychologist said.

Most jobs that have been created in the past five years have been in the service industry.

How the family manages the situation is what matters, said Associate Executive Director of the Gulf Bend Center Lane Johnson.

"We have options and control," Johnson said. "The retail businesses are going to do what works. There's nobody to fault."

The licensed professional counselor described the Black Friday creep on the Thanksgiving as a reflection of the United States' free enterprise system, not of the family.

"My main concern is about the people who work at the stores who don't have the luxury to leave their jobs," Johnson said. "But you also have to realize working the holidays is also nothing new for nursing home, hospital or petroleum plants employees."

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