I am in awe of holiday workers. From the gas station attendant to the nurse and his floor aids to the chemical technician and her subjects, I thank you. While the rest of us are at home enjoying a feast with family or a party with friends, you are hard at work, across America. While we are celebrating in the warmth of our homes, aromas wafting from the kitchen and joyous clatter filling the air, you are slinging coffee from a drive-thru window, tending the injured and infirm, and changing the hotel bed linen. Our trees are lit, the menorahs standing in their places of honor and the turkey is safely basted and tucked in the oven as you dash from your warm beds, head out into the mean streets of Consumerville, USA and set to work leaving your own families and friends behind. And for that, I am grateful.
Here in rural America, farm life waits for no one. Cows need to be corralled into their parlors, livestock need to be fed and barns need to be cleaned. Across the nation, hospitals will be staffed, pharmacies will be manned and even the seemingly necessary, 24-hour mini-marts and liquor stores will open their doors. And what would America do without ‘Wally-Mart’ seven days a week? Travelers will continue to stop for hot meals and restroom breaks that waiters and attendants make possible, while emergency personnel will be there to try to insure it is all done safely. Steam will still pour from the towers of power stations and trains will still run towards their destinations while church bells chime in the background. Cruise ship attendants and taxi drivers will greet their customers and see they have what they need to enjoy their trips while emergency room providers treat the latest drug overdose and check in the stroke patient from the local nursing home. It seems holidays are no cause to rest and relax for many.
In my own family we will have a few empty seats at our upcoming holiday feasts as the nurses work their assigned shifts, the chemical technician mans his research station and even the fast-food peddling teenager fulfills his work obligation. And I am grateful to each of them. They are doing what they do for their paycheck but also for you and me.
No, I won’t be up at 12:01 A.M. on black Friday to fight the crowds in your customer service line. I won’t even be out at noon to bid you well while you wrap up your shift and await your afternoon relief. Instead I will be nursing a cup of cocoa, reading a good book, and staying out of your way so you can make it safely home to your own rest and relaxation. With the grace of God, no one I–or any of you–love will be in need of the emergency pharmacist in town, or the local E.D., but I’m happy they will be there for those who do. I try my hardest to prepare for the holidays in advance–gassing up my car a day early, ensuring I have everything I need from the grocery store, filling my prescriptions on time–so that you have one less burden on your holiday. For those who must stop for coffee, pick up breakfast or grab a windshield wiper refill to make it safely to their own place of employment or, perhaps home to grandma, I am grateful you are there for them. Know that some of us are thinking of you and the sacrifice you’re making so that the rest of the world can go on. Some won’t think twice about stopping for that daily donut on their own day off, commenting that if you didn’t want to work this holiday, you should picked have a different job.–as though that’s always a reality. But most of us are aware of the demands of modern life and its refusal to stop just because the rest of the world rejoices. We know that the holidays don’t mean a ban on emergencies and the infirmities of life, or even shopping for new shoes. The world will continue to turn and all of you holiday employees will be the ones who keep the cogs well oiled as it does. For that, I say THANK YOU.
Live a beautiful life.