Holidays are a low-key affair around here. My husband and I rarely entertain guests, and my relatives, who are scattered across the country, haven’t held a reunion in over a decade (that I am aware of). I spent my Turkey Day not eating turkey with my kids, cats, and our newest family member, Harley the pit-bull.
My Thanksgiving tradition has been to prepare an anti-Thanksgiving meal. In the past, we’ve had spaghetti dinners, hamburgers, lasagna, and I think one year, we ate peanut butter sandwiches! This year, I cooked fried rice and chicken with stir-fry vegetables. :)
Having worked for over a decade in retail, I dread leaving the safety of my house this time of year. Most of you probably feel the same way. Nobody enjoys dealing with crowds of frustrated and frazzled shoppers, least of all the employees who are trying their best to accommodate everyone with a smile.
For the past several years, I worked for Walmart, each and every holiday, including 12-hour shifts on Black Friday. We were the human shields who guarded pallets of televisions and computers from the onslaught of people who were willing to do just about anything to get their hands on them.
And while my store’s clientele were not as ruthless as the folks in YouTube videos posted early Friday morning, it was still crazy enough to make me question my values… and my employer’s values.
I worked at least one Black Friday while pregnant, and remember praying that I wouldn’t be shoved into the freight, or trampled upon, in someone’s blind, obsessive scramble over a $50 gadget. :/
I’ve worked in various jobs and do understand that retail is what it is. I never expected to be treated with the same level of respect as, say, a doctor or teacher… when my duties simply consisted of stocking, cleaning, and building displays of canned tuna. But as the years went by, it felt like we employees were seen as something less than human.
I felt degraded, demoralized, and worthless. And I couldn’t stand what I stood for when wearing that uniform.
After nine years of riding the roller-coaster, from seasonal bakery help, to full-time grocery manager, to part-time stocker (and part-time stay-at-home mom), back to full-time bakery manager… I finally stepped off in late August, and quit for good.
I knew my life would change. I was excited and scared. My husband was supportive and scared.
But while I traded a steady paycheck for the uncertainty of becoming a starving artist, or worse, a housewife with unrealistic expectations of turning her painting hobby into a career…. what I gained from taking a leap of faith was far greater than any risk.
I found my purpose and my passion. I found my pride, and my path. As cheesy as that sounds, it is the truth.
If you had asked the 18-year-old Tara what she planned to do with her life, she would be uncertain. Heck, she couldn’t even narrow down which college she wanted to attend, and when she finally applied and was accepted to a performing arts school, she dropped out during the first week.
Actor, writer, teacher, baker, bookshop owner… my dreams were all over the board. However, one constant thing in my life was my obsession with cats, and somehow I stumbled into my future when I began painting them all dressed up.
Something “clicked” inside, and this skeptical girl who struggles to make commitments knew that This Was It.
This “cat art” thing is the career path I am destined to walk.
It has taken me over 30 years to figure out who I am supposed to be, and where I fit into this world.
And although I recognize that I am still at the beginning of a very long journey, with many skills still to learn, and many experiences to face… I have confidence such as I’ve never felt before. Ever. In my life.
This Thanksgiving, my husband had to work providing security for the retail store hosting Black Friday. And I spent the evening at home with our kids, watching movies and cutting out dozens of bookmarks, and eating our chicken fried rice.
I reminisced about all the Black Fridays of holidays past, and recognized the stress that I felt this year was a motivating kind of pressure to improve myself. Far removed from the beaten-down and defeated stress that I felt last year.
I owe so much thanks to the wonderful customers who have supported me in the last few years, and even in the last several months after quitting my job. They have made it possible to continue doing what I love for a living, with no regrets.
My family and friends who encourage me every day, I owe them also. I hope that by improving and achieving my goals, that I will continue to make them proud.
In the spirit of consumer madness, I am running a Black Friday sale in my Etsy shop through Monday. (It originally ended on Sunday, but I decided to carry it through into “Cyber Monday”).
Inviting you to shop from home in your pajamas, while I fulfill your orders in MY pajamas, is the best way that I can celebrate my thankfulness!
I have the most purr-fect job in the world, thanks to all of you!
Happy Holidays, Everybody! =^,,^=