November 23rd, 2011
12:17 PM ET

Letters to the President #1038: 'Pre-Turkey Day'

Reporter's Note: The president is, like many of us, preparing for Thanksgiving.

Dear Mr. President,

Do you think anyone is really working today? I feel as if the Wednesday before Thanksgiving can be so overwhelmed by preparations for the big feast and dealing with travel arrangements that it has turned into a de facto extension of the holiday itself.

I know that plenty of schools hold only a half day of classes, and not much gets done in those few hours the students are there anyway. Plenty of offices seem pretty much OK with people ducking out a shade early. And I’ve noticed more stores closing around mid-afternoon than I used to see.

Not that I’m complaining. Frankly, I’m all in favor of more holidays in this country.

That may seem counterintuitive. After all, our economy is shakier than a gobbler when Grandma starts whipping up gravy, but I don’t think it is because we’re not spending enough time at the office. To the contrary, I think that many people are so nervous about losing their jobs that they are spending way too much time on the job. They are at their desks too much; they worry about work when they are away; and with cell phones and BlackBerrys…well, to be honest, many people are never really “off” anymore, are they?

The long hours are making them tired, uninspired, and I would argue less productive overall.

So if your staff wants to step out a little earlier today, despite all the complaints about government workers that you must hear from time to time, I say “Let them go.” Maybe with a little extra time to enjoy their families, consider the goodness of their lives, and gain a little perspective, they will actually do a better job for all of us when they return.

And then we’ll all have something else for which to be thankful.


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Filed under: Letters to the President • Opinion • President Barack Obama • T1 • Tom Foreman
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