Working on Christmas

Matthew Gates 3m 712 #workingchristmas

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There are some jobs that require a person to be present on Christmas. When I signed the job application, I did not realize that “Are you available to work on the Holidays?” meant that I would actually be working on holidays. Well, it most certainly did. Sometimes all holidays, sometimes just a few. Sometimes I would have to make a request off a few months in advance for a holiday off or everyone else would end up requesting the day off and I would be stuck working their shift as well as mine.

Several jobs I’ve held I can recall working on Christmas. When I was younger, it was my first job and I worked at McDonalds. They opened early and were to stay open until around 4 PM. I was asked to work the shift and did so. We were lucky to get three customers that day and other than spending most of the time cleaning the floors, the bathrooms, the ovens, the friers, the stoves and countertops, the machines, it was awful and boring. At the time, I was making $5.25 an hour which was minimum wage at the time. Hardly worth it and I had wished I was home with family.

The second job I had was when I was slightly older, around 18 years of age. I worked as a Contract Security Officer and the job was at a Children’s Specialized Hospital. I did enjoy being there because there were terminally ill children and children who had special needs who could not be at home with their families. I thought it was special to be spending a cherished day with the children. The hospital actually had more than one area — an area for Children with specialized needs, an area for mentally ill patients, an area for patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and an area for terminally ill patients. My job was simple: To walk around the entire hospital once or twice an hour and make sure everyone was okay and to ensure patients were not acting out of the ordinary. For this job, you definitely had to stay detached.

For my second job, also a security job and at a hospital, my boss gave me the choice: I had to work most holidays but he would give me at least one holiday off. I ended up working on Christmas but I was on a plane headed to Israel on New Years Eve. Working on Christmas was not so bad though I had to work the evening shift, so dinner with family was not possible. Work went pretty normal on that Christmas Day, thank goodness, but they needed a body present there in the Command Center, so it was just a normal work day.. work on Christmas, had to get it over with. At least one of the nurses, a male nurse who loved to cook, brought in so much food. I was able to eat a plate of that amazing food.  That made it all worth it. The fact is, it’s easier to work on Christmas when you are Jewish! So I’ve never had any issues with working on Christmas and if I had to choose between any holiday to work, this one would be it. Besides, you get to avoid all the awkwardness of not having gotten someone gifts, or being able to skip gift giving. You also prevent yourself from overeating which most people tend to do when they are sitting around with family and the food is fresh. You eat less if you have to heat it up later on.

I am much older now than when I worked those jobs, so I am currently working a job that takes off with all the holidays.  I’m very thankful for that and I’m grateful I can spend Christmas Day with family again. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and if you are working—especially to nurses, firemen, policemen, and service workers and employees whose bosses feel the need for them to work—and a thanks to Santa who spent all night delivering those presents—enjoy the holiday pay, but be sure to give your family a call and wish them well, and of course, make sure you tell them to save you some food!