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Christmas workers provide needed services during holidays

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Many people can depend on days off during the holiday season, but not all work duties go on hold on Christmas Day.

With the holidays comes an increase in traffic in local communities. Between slick roads and holiday parties, the need for police officers during the holidays actually grows.

Police Chief Robert Hartman has been working with the Crosslake Police Department for 20 years where he almost always worked Christmas.

“I think what we find is a lot of times we have an increase in domestic disputes from the extra stress that people are going through. The stress of family and the extra money they spend,” Hartman said. “It’s always stressful during that time of year. In law enforcement that’s what we do. We have to work it.”

Duty calls, but with a wife and two kids, it hasn’t always been easy to work through the holidays.

“After this many years they are kind of used to it. It causes some stress, especially when you’re young,” Hartman said. “It causes stress between your spouse and kids and stuff sometimes. When they’re young they don’t quite understand why you’re not around during Christmas.”

Police aren’t the only ones working during the holidays. Like public safety, the duties of a nursing home worker do not go on vacation. Many workers consider it important to work through the holidays.

“Some staff don’t have families. When they come to work, this is their family. And some residents here don’t have families, so it’s nice to see the same familiar faces,” said Shelly Johnson, administrative assistant and staffing coordinator with Senior Class Care of Pequot Lakes. “I am very comfortable with it. These guys are part of my life, and I enjoy my job.”

Johnson also has three children.

“For everybody in law enforcement, it would be nice to be home and in where it is nice and warm, eating big dinners and sitting on the couch,” said Hartman. “When you choose this profession you have to know going in that this is part of what you do, especially if you respond to medicals and cars in the ditch. We’re helping people, especially during the holidays. That’s what we do.”

“Everybody always forgets something, and needs something. It’s all about helping our customers through the convenience of being open,” said Kimberly DeLong, manager at the Pine River Holiday station store. “People are very thankful that we’re open. They think we shouldn’t be open, but they are thankful that we are.”

Sometimes places of employment have various ways to make working during Christmas easier.

At Senior Class Care, half of the 15 employees work eight-hour shifts on Thanksgiving, and the other half work on Christmas. They alternate holidays.

“It’s every other one. We go through the holidays and work one, have one off. Work one, have one off,” Johnson said.

DeLong gives her employees the opportunity to volunteer for holidays or request different times off so that those who have families might get the chance to spend Christmas at home.

“When my kids were younger I got to spend Christmas with my kids, so now I want to give my employees the same opportunity they gave me. Whether manager or not, my family isn’t any more important to me than theirs is to them,” DeLong said.

Even when they work holidays, many families still find ways to celebrate Christmas together.

“We still have our family time and we value that very much. After Christmas Eve service we always have a nice Christmas dinner with our immediate family,” said Pastor John Rister of the Backus Nazarene Church. “We get up Christmas morning and I always make breakfast before we gather around the tree and share stories of how God has blessed us this past year and then open up the gifts.”

“Generally what we’ve always done is held our Christmas on the eve, and if I have both of the days off we do something both days, with one day with one side of the family, and the other day with the other side of the family,” Hartman said.

“We still get together for holidays,” DeLong said. “We just move things around now. Before we used to celebrate our Christmas in the morning, and now we just celebrate in the evening. By no means am I going to miss out on having Christmas with my kids.”

Even if it sometimes seems like they are the only ones working Christmas, many workers still consider it worthwhile.

“If we can give just a little joy to people in our life, it’s all worth it,” Delong said.

“These people are very important to me, and if I didn’t enjoy my job I wouldn’t be here,” Johnson said.

“Christmas is a time where a lot of people are more open to the message of the Gospel and Jesus Christ and the baby in the manger,” Rister said. “I think it’s important that we as pastors give them that opportunity to see Jesus living through us and to worship him in those settings through Christmas and letting him know what the manger is all about.”

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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