Being a Working Parent on Christmas Day: It’s OK, Really

Christmas day is a time for family, right?

Well, only if you actually get the day off to spend it with them.

As a working parent, I’ll be spending Christmas Day with my co-workers. When I say that out loud to family members they often cringe.

It’s hard enough to balance spending the holidays with each side of our family, but add in an office that doesn’t get to close on this day and it creates an entirely new dynamic.

Do my husband and I still have rules? Yes. Every other year we alternate. One year Christmas is spent with his big extended family and the next year it is spent with my parents {and often no extended family because they’re all overseas}. But my work schedule often throws another wrench into that plan.

This year, I’m thankful to have Christmas Eve off. I’m thankful my parents are allowing us to act like Christmas Eve is Christmas Day. My mom is making Christmas dinner a day early, and I’m able to squeeze in just enough time Christmas morning to unwrap presents with the kiddos before I run off to work. {All of this is assuming everything goes as planned at work of course and I don’t get called in early.}

On Christmas Day, one of my favorites is smoked salmon and Buck’s Fizz {the British version of a mimosa} during the late morning and pulling Christmas crackers together at the dinner table. We will still have all of our traditions, but just in a different order this year.

cookies and coffee, working parentI’m also thankful my husband gets to work from home so often. He doesn’t go into the office at all the week of Christmas or the New Year. That means when my kids are at home {because school and daycare are closed} my husband can help manage the few hours of overlap in our shifts. My husband gets to finish work early on the days around the holidays, and of course, he never works an actual holiday. I’m thankful that when I’m gone they have another parent who is with them.

On Thanksgiving Day I had a family member ask, ‘How did you get this day off work?” My response, “I’m working Christmas.”

It may seem absurd to some, but there are many careers that demand this. I do get upset, at times, when I miss moments with my children around the holidays, but we still make plenty of memories together. My son even says to me, “It’s okay mom I know you’ll have fun with your friends at work.” I know he’s learning a great lesson while inside my heart hurts.

child holding christmas stockingPlease don’t make us feel bad.

Please don’t act like we are doing something wrong. Instead, please show support for the working parents who sacrifice so much, but work so hard to make sure their kids still have all of those same wonderful memories. 

Just remember, those who have to work Christmas, Thanksgiving or any other holiday don’t necessarily want your sympathy. We’re often proud of the work we do, even on these days. We just want your understanding that this is our reality around the holidays.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. And cheers to a New Year!