44: Flex Time

44: Flex Time

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

Flex Time

The funny thing about firemen is, night and day, they are always firemen.

~Gregory Widen, Backdraft

My husband Howard was a volunteer firefighter who later worked his way up to Captain. We knew that our holidays were going to be disrupted by other family’s emergencies, so we devised a plan. To assuage our young daughter’s worries, we wrote to Santa and let him know that “our” Christmas was going to be celebrated on a different day every year. Santa obviously received the letter, because he never missed filling our Christmas stockings on the appointed mornings!

On “our” Christmas Day we stayed in our pajamas for hours, like other families, while the turkey went into the oven and the gifts were opened. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas meal and went to bed happy with our uninterrupted “special” family holiday.

On the actual Christmas Day, the firehouse would hold a “family” dinner for the on-call firefighters and paramedics. A few police officers in our small town also joined us. Our family attended many of these meals, and just like clockwork, as the turkey and gravy hit the table, the 9-1-1 alarms would sound and all the first responders would rush out, leaving their hot dinners and their disappointed, yet understanding, families.

We taught our daughter Ariel that it is not the specific date that makes the holidays. Years later, she became a volunteer firefighter/ paramedic, too, so our two-Christmases tradition continued at home and at the station.

Now that Ariel is married with children, our holiday “tradition” continues because her husband’s job demands that he work most holidays. Because our family doesn’t care which day we celebrate Christmas, my son-in-law volunteers to work on Christmas and he makes time and a half. We’ve turned our family flexibility into a benefit that takes all the stress out of the holiday and makes our holidays together even more special.

~Mary Ellen Angelscribe

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