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Finding the silver lining from working on Christmas

For the first time in my entire life, I worked on Christmas Day. For that reason, Dec. 25, 2012, is a date I’ll never forget.

My dad’s side of the family was opening presents and breaking bread at my Nana and Pop-Pop’s house in Springettsbury Township. Due to scheduling conflicts and work, I didn’t get to see anyone on my dad’s side over Thanksgiving.

Me and my girlfriend, Jess, and her dog, Austin, in front of her Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Having someone special with which to share the holidays makes the warmth so much warmer and the joy so much merrier.

I spent two hours there with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, two nephews, grandparents, aunt, uncle, cousins and great uncle before I had to leave for work. Walking around the warm, cozy living room for hugs and kisses was not something I was overly thrilled about, but it had to be done.

Prior to leaving, I spoke on the phone with my uncle in Florida who also had to work on Christmas.

“It stinks,” we agreed during the long distance call. But he works in television and I work in news media; two industries that never stop churning.

At my prior job, when I was a reporter for the Gettysburg Times, I enjoyed the luxury of working for a newspaper that lacked a Sunday edition, freeing up my weekends. Additionally, the Gettysburg Times does not print on Christmas or New Year’s days. I knew then that my next job would be different at a news outlet that prints 365 days out of the year, 366 on a leap year.

But still, leaving that living room filled with love, laughter and holiday cheer was not easy for me. Looking through the window at my family enjoying hor d’oeuvres and conversation from the outside made me feel cold and distant as I made the lonely trek to my car.

My Nana and Pop-Pop’s Springettsbury Township home, where my dad’s side of the family convenes every Christmas for dinner and exchanging of gifts, pleasantries and holiday cheer. It was not easy to leave everyone to come to work this Christmas, but all-in-all, I’m a pretty lucky guy.

But then, I began to take stock of the bright side. As it turns out, there are several thick strands of silver lining for which to be thankful.

I have a job, and one that I enjoy. With the national unemployment rate somewhere between 7 and 8 percent, simply having a job these days is good. The economy is still shaky, and I not only have a job, but one that pays me fairly well. I also have health insurance, a car, a decent credit rating and the ability to clothe and feed myself. All of this would not be possible without a job.

As I drove myself to work on Christmas via Route 30, I began to look around and appreciate things on a very different level.

While I had to leave them, I have a happy and healthy family to leave. Some people have lost loved ones and some families don’t get along. Some people have recently had to bury their loved ones amidst tragedy. All four of my grandparents are still alive and well. I am genuinely friends with every member of my family, both my mom’s and dad’s side.

And while I missed out on a solid portion of my Nana and Pop-Pop’s Christmas, I was able to attend my immediate family’s annual Christmas Eve dinner celebration (attended by my Nana and Pop-Pop), my mom’s family’s wild and crazy gift exchange and dinner on Dec. 23 as well as a solid amount of friend time over the weekend.

Me and my friends after our rowdy, white elephant gift exchange Dec. 23.

Even my relatives who could not make it this year, some in New York, New Jersey, Colorado and Florida, are all well and good. They aren’t deployed overseas or in harm’s way.

There are servicemen and women who are deployed overseas and in harm’s way over the holidays. For me to gripe and groan about driving 15 minutes to a safe, warm office to put together a newspaper is foolish when considering what so many brave Americans do in a day’s work. They are protecting our freedom, something for which I am truly grateful.

My brother, Adam, and my sister-in-law, Sabrina, two of my favorite people on the planet and two people who are pivotal to any family gathering.

Finally, while our families’ conflicting celebrations have prevented us from attending everything together, my girlfriend and I have spent every night together this past week, watching holiday movies, enjoying non-alcoholic drinks, eating cookies and simply being warm and cozy by the fire with the Christmas tree aglow.

So yeah, I had to work on Christmas, but it really is not all that bad. As I look around and count my abundance of blessings and good fortunes, I can stand tall knowing that my eight hours of effort on Christmas allowed thousands of people in and around Hanover to have a newspaper to read on Dec. 26.