Well, here it is—the week of Christmas, and the beginning of my glorious, two-week Christmas break. If this blog post feels a bit like I’m rubbing in readers’ faces the bloated excess of education’s vacation time, my apologies. I will note, though, that if you spent hours everyday as a surrogate parent to other people’s children, you, too, would want two weeks off at Christmas.
Indeed, I would argue that more professions deserve more time off at Christmastime. Naturally, I realize that many folks save up their hard-earned vacation days to do just that: enjoy a week or so with their families by the yule log, sipping eggnog and hot cocoa in their festive Cosby sweaters. What I’m advocating for, though, is a widespread cultural movement—maybe even to the point of declaring some federal holidays—in the days leading up to and/or immediately after Christmas. It always blows my mind when people work a full day—even a measly half-day—on Christmas Eve.
I’ve definitely been spoiled working most of my career in education, other than two brief years working in local government (probably the next closest thing to working in education, in terms of days off), and I fully understand that some people need that work—or want to earn some overtime. I vividly remember one of my older cousins showing up late to my late grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving and Christmas because he was getting double-time at the paper plant.
In other words, I’m not suggesting we make it illegal for companies to stay open on Christmas Eve—God forbid! But it would be great to see some companies giving their employees a break. When I worked in local government, the first half of December was insane—I managed a performing arts venue, and booked talent for an outdoor weekend event—but the last week or two was dead. My first year I was still in my six-month probation period, so I couldn’t take time off yet. I was one of maybe two or three people on my floor during those long, quiet days after Christmas. I would go days without my office phone ringing once.
So there’s already a sense that much work isn’t getting done those days. For white-collar work especially, why not shutter from Christmas to New Year’s and give everyone some time off? Granted, the service industry is making a mint those days, as everyone is out shopping, getting their oil changed, etc. But it does seem a less Scrooge-like dispensation of paid time off would be welcome.
Or perhaps I’m just living in an indolent bubble. There are many blessings to teaching, one of them being a luxurious Christmas Break (and an even more decadent summer vacation). In the “real world,” that doesn’t necessarily translate over. Lord knows I want my dentist open on 26 December if my dental implant starts acting up.
Still, we’re a wealthy enough nation that another day or two with family at Christmastime isn’t going to tank the economy. Every company’s situation is different, of course, but for those that are well off—and not likely to do much business during those lazy holiday days—why not give employees some time to celebrate and relax with their families?
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