Happy Lose-A-Vacation-Day Day!
What exactly is the purpose of putting Thanksgiving on a Thursday? What is today for, exactly, this aimless extra day?
With Turkey Day on a Thursday, you wind up with a kind of orphaned Friday at the end of the week. Don’t tell me it’s “for” shopping. We shop today because we need something to do, something to fill the time. So we shop because we have this day free, not the other way around.
To add insult to injury, businesses give their employees Thursday off — national holiday and all that — but not Friday, even though they know you’re going to take Friday off.
You’ve flown across the country for the honor of fighting with your brother-in-law about Trump, you’re not going to fly back Thursday night for the honor of sitting at your desk in an empty office.
Or, because this is post-pandemic America and still in pre-normal-again times, they know you’re not going to log in on Friday morning and stare at an empty screen all day, send emails that won’t be returned, sharpen your pencil in case there is something for you to write down.
I mean, you had to drink a lot to get through that awful, overcooked meal, and to sit at the same table with your awful MAGA brother-in-law who thinks Trump won the election.
Then, filled with rage — your brain screams When he said this, I shoulda said that — you couldn’t get to sleep till two in the morning. You’re not going to get up at nine am to stare at the empty computer screen. You’re going to take the day off and stare at the wall.
Let’s say you have ten vacation days a year, a pretty typical number. Uncle Sam lets employers treat as a vacation day what is for all intents and purposes a national holiday. So if your boss tells you that you get ten vacation days a year, that really means nine. The Friday after Thanksgiving is just a gift to employers.
I admit, for me, it’s all kind of hypothetical. I cook Thanksgiving for the immediate nuclear family, I don’t go anywhere. I don’t think I have an awful MAGA brother-in-law. Maybe I do, but I don’t know. And my job here at Audere Magazine permits unlimited vacation days.
But at one time I was a regular person with a regular job and a limited number of vacation days, I remember what that was like, and this whole thing still gives me a bit of residual resentment.
Why is Thanksgiving on a Thursday, when other holidays generally fall on Monday, thus helpfully appended to the weekend?
According to some random website that popped up when I googled this question, “It may be that Thursday became tradition in order to distance the event from the Sabbath day among the Puritan colonists. Thursday was also a typical day for lectures in New England, with ministers giving a religious talk each Thursday afternoon. This practice may have contributed to the Thursday Thanksgiving tradition.”
Why Thursday? Because that’s the day that ministers, a long time ago, used to give religious lectures.
A tip of my hat to that random website, though. Most websites (including Britannica) cop-out and explain that Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday because that’s the date that Congress designated as Thanksgiving, which is really weirdly circular.
Why does Christmas fall on December 25th, Mom?
Why Jimmy, what a silly question! Because December 25th is Christmas Day, of course!
Anyway, it’s a bad idea, it gives us this sort of useless time to wander around, fight with other shoppers at Macy’s and lose a vacation day.
It makes us feel aimless and sad.
Move Thanksgiving to Monday. Make the world a better place.
See you next year.
This article was written by Steven S. Drachman. His novel, Watt O’Hugh and the Innocent Dead, is available from Chickadee Prince Books in trade paperback from your favorite local independent bookstore, from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and on Kindle.
This article originally appeared in Audere Magazine in 2022.