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Giving Thanks with Friends, Family and the Great Outdoors

by Traci Pesch

Recognize This! – Experiencing a spirit of gratefulness with family and friends is one of the greatest gifts of Thanksgiving.

I love Black Friday. Every year, my cousins, close friends and I plan our attack with a precision that could rival Santa's global delivery schedule. We identify the stores we will hit and the responsibilities we each have for specific items in each store. It’s tremendous fun for all of us, and a bonding experience we cherish far beyond the shopping or the deals. But as much as I love Black Friday, I love Thanksgiving more.

A day spent with my family, sharing together and celebrating all that we have to be grateful for, most especially each other – there is no gift I can buy on Black Friday more precious than that. That’s why after last year’s seeming trend for stores to extend Black Friday by opening on Thanksgiving, I was thrilled that so many major retailers are making a point of staying closed on a day intended for relationships, gratitude and togetherness. Some have even incorporated the message into their advertisements, like this one from the TJX Companies – TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods. (Email subscribers, click through for the video.)

And then there’s REI, an outdoor retailer that describes itself on its website as:

“REI is a national outdoor retail co-op dedicated to inspiring, educating and outfitting its members and the community for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.”

Living up to that statement of purpose, REI has been in the news recently for the decision to only remain closed on Thanksgiving, but to also close on Black Friday while still paying its employees to “be outside.” With such a clear demonstration of living out its values as a company, it’s no wonder REI often appears on the Fortune Top 100 Companies to Work For list. What a wonderful demonstration of acknowledging employees as humans. If you work for REI, it’s likely a fair assumption that you enjoy the great outdoors. So to pay people to extend their Thanksgiving holiday with the opportunity to engage in a personal passion, with pay – that’s the essence of what we mean by WorkHuman.

What do you enjoy most about the Thanksgiving holiday? Whether or not Thanksgiving is part of your cultural tradition, what are you grateful for this year?