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Stott: Thanks to those who work holidays

Published: Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

I did something regrettable Tuesday. In the midst of the good tidings and Christmas cheer, I temporarily forgot about a significant population of people.

Who did I neglect? Those who work on holidays.

I remember being a child and blissfully believing that holidays existed in a perfectly quiet and serene universe, where all the stores were closed and the only cars on the roads belonged to people happily en route to the homes of their relatives.

When I grew older, I realized this is not so. It was made increasingly clear to me when I worked several jobs where holidays and even weekends are not sacred time off for all.

The first holiday I missed because of work was Easter. The restaurant where I worked was a holiday meal mainstay.

Although many workplaces can afford to close for an entire day, others, such as restaurants, provide necessary services that don't cease simply because the calendar says July 4 or Dec. 25.

On Tuesday, I was contentedly traveling from one relative's house to the next when I realized I hadn't stopped once to consider how thankful I feel to those workers who spend their holidays on the job.

My job this year hasn't required any holiday work, and I forgot what it was like to have that requirement.

It is the employees who work these special days who help keep our society functioning in the way we have come to expect.

We often reserve our deepest thanks for those who serve in a way that risks their lives. Military families, firefighters, health care workers and law enforcement officers all receive deserved recognition over the holidays.

But service to society comes in many, more humble forms.

There are gas station attendants and hotel managers who help travelers achieve happy holidays.

There are tow truck drivers and snow plow operators who ensure safety on the roads.

Of course, there are news media employees who work to make sure papers and broadcasts are up to date.

I have worked several holidays in a newsroom, and although it is usually nice and quiet and the work is pretty easy, I would always rather be with my family.

Some people prefer working on holidays. Many employers offer overtime and, because many members of the population are preoccupied with celebration, many workplaces aren't as busy as usual.

But work is work, and an ideal world would allow everyone to be where they want on Christmas (and every other holiday).

Our society wouldn't be as cohesively functional as it is without people who work when most of us have off. Drivers would run out of gas and news wouldn't be reported. Little things we take for granted would disappear on days of celebration.

I felt bad Tuesday when I realized I hadn't thought to recognize all the people who worked Christmas to help keep society running calmly.

You can bet I will be thinking of those people on New Year's Day next Tuesday. If you appreciate being served by these members of the workforce, I invite you to join me.

• Lauren Stott is a Maple Park native and a graduate student at Northern Illinois University in the master of public administration program. She can be reached at lauren_stott@yahoo.com.

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