Thanksgiving In My Hometown In Days Past: What a Difference Greed Makes.

One of my Facebook friends just posted this:  "... it isn't like it use to be. The holidays meant something, now it all about profit and greed."  That set me to thinking about Thanksgiving as a child while growing up in Ashland, Kentucky.

Our father worked for Ashland Oil and Refining Company.  He was a laborer at the refinery for a little while, then an operator at the same company during the time about which I am writing.  In other words he was just an ordinary employee, a member of the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, and one who cared about how the company for whom he worked, or rather the person for whom he worked and that company, Paul Blazer did with his business. 

Mr. Blazer was more than just a little considerate at this Holiday time of the year.  The thing we remember most, as children, though (well, at least that Mike remembers most) were the Christmas parties Ashland Oil held at the armory for all of the employees, their spouses, and their children.  It was a big affair; and developed as the company grew to at least three parties for different employees through the years.

After feeding all of us a good meal, we were treated to circus acts which, for a boy from eastern Kentucky, was a very special treat.  After that we all lined up to get a present given to us by Ashland Oil as children of employees.  Families tended to be much bigger in those days; and for the Mansfield family that meant five gifts!  They were not cheap gifts either; and we always looked forward to this offering for us given by what we saw as our father's company, in part because of his dedication to that company.

Today, if Paul Blazer were the CEO of Ashland Oil he would be fired the first time he tried that party unless it improved the bottom line in profits for that company.  Today corporations around the United States have decided that having a leg up on sales, by opening on Thanksgiving Day, when it was bad enough that they were opening at Midnight on Thanksgiving; and in doing so they are doing almost exactly the opposite of what Mr. Blazer did for the employees of Ashland Oil.  Yes, those employees MAY make a little extra money; but there is not even a guarantee of that.  In our father's day, had he been required to work at Ashland Oil on a holiday, a real possibility since it was a refinery and operated 24 hours per day, he would have received two and one-half times his regular salary for working that holiday.  Folk at most of the non-production businesses opening for Thanksgiving tomorrow will receive only their regular hourly wage unless it is forty hours for the week.  They may even see their weekly pay go down since extra employees get hired over the holidays.

So tomorrow, if you find yourself tempted to go get a cheap TV or X-box or something, don't just think about yourself.  You're just falling into the same trap into which  the folk running these companies have fallen. It isn't exactly the same.  Your greed is for saving money on an item you want.  Their greed is for additional income for themselves and their company.  In both cases, though, the underlying drive is greed and in no way reflects what we saw when we watched a dozen clowns crawl out of a tiny car on the floor of the armory nor the joy of children eating with parents and the joy of parents watching their excited children receive their gifts.

You can wait a day for that X-Box.  If you really need it you can still get it 24 hours later.

Give thanks with a grateful heart tomorrow as I gift thanks for memories and friends right now.