I work for a newspaper. The newspaper comes out every day. That includes Christmas day. And the day after.
So it stands to reason that, sooner or later, I'm going to have to work on an important holiday or two, as I did tonight.
I'm always a bit amused by the reaction if I mention to someone that I'm working on Christmas. Typically, brows furrow and tones soften, as if I have just informed them of my dire medical diagnosis or impending divorce or some other unspeakably cruel or wrenching trauma.
Don't get me wrong. Working every holiday would be a drag. But I'm happy to pull duty every now and then. We usually write and edit a lot of copy in advance, so the pace isn't terribly hectic. And we try to get by with a skeleton crew, so it's quiet and I can arrive early and attack undisturbed the work that has been piling up lately.
Moreover, if you work in this business, you deal with a few lonely holidays. Like cops and firefighters and soldiers, it comes with the territory ... and a lot less inherent peril.
Actually, the only terribly unpleasant thing about working on Christmas is having to tell others about the terribly unpleasant things that happen to others around the holidays. Tonight was no exception, as a fire displaced a Spring Island couple just as the grandkids were arriving for a visit. I hope Cleve and Wendy Meredith find the damage to their home is minor, insurance pays for everything and they're able to celebrate the holiday with their family.
Two years ago, the local news was even more grim: A Bluffton man was shot and killed Christmas Eve by a controversial tow-company operator, who tried to put a boot on his car as he was visiting relatives. As 2013 approaches, Preston Oates still has not come to trial in the shooting death of Carlos Oliver.
I suppose it is a good thing we don't take a day off. Menace and mayhem don't, either.
On Christmas day in 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev announced he would resign as president of the Soviet Union, which had all but disintegrated four days earlier, anyway. In 2000, a Christmas party at an unlicensed disco killed more than 300 people in Luoyang, China.
On a happier note -- for Americans, anyway -- George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River, springing a surprise upon a Hessian force celebrating Christmas in Trenton, N.J. The unconventional attack ended several months of substantial defeats for Washington's army.
I wonder if Washington's friends thought he had a crummy job because he had to work on Christmas.
Me? I'm happy to report. I know there are much worse fates that can befall you on Christmas than putting in a few hours in the name of keeping folks informed.