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Working holidays comes with territory for many

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WILLMAR — With more retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day, many retail workers are seeing the erosion of one of their traditional holidays.

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In many occupations, however, working weekends and holidays just comes with the territory.

It will be business as usual at Rice Memorial Hospital on Thursday. “It’s typically slower around the holidays but the whole hospital is open 24/7,” said June Boie, director of emergency and critical care services.

With doctors’ offices and urgent care closed for the day and more travelers on the road, the emergency room will have extra staff on hand Thursday, she said. “We expect volumes to increase. You just never know.”

Most health care workers are accustomed to working on holidays and take it in stride, she said.

Some celebrate Thanksgiving on another day when they aren’t working and can be with family. On occasion, they might have a celebration of their own in the staff break room.

“Sometimes the staff will arrange a potluck, because this is their family away from family,” Boie said.

At least some staff members work every weekend and every holiday at the West Central Tribune. Although the Tribune does not publish a print edition on Thanksgiving Day, a full production, press and distribution crew and members of the news and sports departments will be at the Willmar offices by Thursday afternoon to put out the Friday edition.

For restaurants, Thanksgiving Day buffets are a staple, and those businesses need to be fully staffed.

Many convenience stores are open on holidays so that travelers can buy gas and stock up on snacks on their way to visit relatives.

Movie theaters have traditionally opened Thanksgiving evening. Going to the movies on Thanksgiving evening is an annual tradition in some families.

Many grocery stores are open at least part of the day on Thanksgiving — a lifesaver for the home cooks who forgot the cranberries.

Comments on the Tribune’s page on Facebook reflected a variety of views about working on Thanksgiving and on Black Friday shopping starting on Thursday.

A number of people said they were strongly opposed to stores opening on Thanksgiving and concerned about the people who would be working. One person said her kids always look forward to shopping on Black Friday, “but we will not be shopping any stores that open before Friday.”

Some said corporate greed was responsible for the early store openings. But one person countered that. “In conclusion, if people wouldn’t come out to shop, the stores would not open, so where do you place the blame? Consumers,” she wrote.

Others had their reasons for thinking it was OK for the stores to open, though many also said no one actually likes working on a holiday.

Wrote one woman: “I grew up on a dairy farm and we always enjoyed holidays ... don’t remember my parents ever complaining (because) they had to work. Life is what you make of it ... you can enjoy family and friends any day of the year.”

Several people who work in retail posted that stores wouldn’t open early if hordes of people weren’t waiting in line at the door. One pointed out that people would still be working in retail stores on the holiday, even if the store didn’t open until the next day.

The retail workers talked about another reason some people support having stores open on Thanksgiving. They wrote about people who live far away from their families or who are alone on the holiday for other reasons. Having stores open gives them a place to go.

“But what about people that don’t have a family? What about people who had a falling-out with their family, lost their family, or live too far away to be with them? What about people who don’t want to spend the day at home reflecting on the fact that they are completely and utterly alone?” one woman wrote. “So, while it’s a lovely idea that everyone in America has the day off to carve a turkey while surrounded by loved ones, it’s not that straightforward.”

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