“Open All Day Thanksgiving” – Would Sam Walton Agree?

From the desk of Wisconsin Family Action President Julaine Appling:

I love Thanksgiving.  I always have. I’ve loved the history of and meaning of this American holiday since I can remember.  I love how we celebrated it with family and friends when I was growing up.  I love that I still celebrate it that way.  I love the traditions related to food choices, football, family games, and more.  And I don’t like to have Thanksgiving lost in the pre-Christmas crush. I want it kept separate and distinct and thoroughly enjoyed.  Ok…now you know I am especially sensitive to and protective of Thanksgiving.

ImageSo late last week, I walk into my local Wal-Mart and am immediately confronted with a sign proudly and boldly declaring “Open All Day Thanksgiving.”  What?! I’m not 10 feet into the store and I’m sputtering, gesturing, and saying out loud to anyone who can hear me, “Are they nuts?  What is going on here?  I don’t like this one bit.” Well, I’m sure you can imagine the rant.  I probably should have immediately gone to Customer Service and asked to see a manager rather than waste this wonderful diatribe on no one in particular.  However, I didn’t.

(Photo, right: Baraboo WalMart)

Instead, I ran into a friend who works at this Wal-Mart.  I took a chance and launched into my real disappointment in the company for this decision.  Fortunately, she agreed with me.  After telling me she was scheduled to work Thanksgiving, she said, “You know Sam Walton would not agree with this decision. I don’t understand why his heirs and the current management think this is a good idea.  Is it just greed?”

I can’t answer that question definitively, of course.  But I do know much of corporate America, historically, was founded by people with strong family values and a deep respect for the traditions of this great country.  Today it seems much of that is lost and everything is about increasing the corporate bottom line.  Sadly, that is not surprising since we have lost so much of the Judeo-Christian influence in our culture.

ImageThankfully, things improved a bit when I got home that day and opened the paper.  There were a ton of advertisements but in there the Menards one caught my attention.  On the front page was this little note:  “Dear Guest: As a family-owned company Menards believes Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness. With this in mind, we will be closed on Thanksgiving Day so you and our Team Members can celebrate this joyous time with family and friends. We will open our doors bright and early at 6 a.m. on Friday morning.”

Now, that is the way it is supposed to be, I said. And with that, I decided it was right that Wisconsin Family Council, as the state’s leading pro-family organization, should let Mr. John Menard, Jr., CEO of Menard Inc. know how pleased we are with his decision and his message.

So, this past Monday, we sent an Open Letter to Mr. Menard commending him for bucking the trend that is becoming all too prevalent and popular in our culture.  We also released the letter and an accompanying press release to the media so everyone can know that Menards, in this instance, has put families ahead of profit that might be made this Thursday.  I sincerely hope Mr. Menard sees the letter and knows that his decision is encouraging to at least some of us.  And I sincerely hope that Black Friday 2013 is one of the best in the history of Menards!

Menards’ emphasis on family at holidays is important.  Imagine Thanksgiving without family and friends.  Of course we can give thanks and recognize the specialness of the day by ourselves, but how much richer is this special holiday when shared with those we love, those with whom we have deep bonds and special memories.  Every holiday ought to be a time to strengthen the family unit.

And so this Thanksgiving, I trust you will gather your family together and share the beautiful story of the First Thanksgiving with them, young and old.  Certainly, take time to voice some of the things for which you are thankful and then give thanks to the Giver of all those blessings, Almighty God, from Whose hand and by Whose grace and mercy we enjoy all these good things, including the privilege of living in this great country.  Included in my list of blessings this year will be Menards for its willingness to take a stand and lead by example.  From all of us to all of you and your families, we wish you a richly blessed, family-oriented, non-shopping Thanksgiving!

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