• Lisa

Working on and Around the Holidays

Thanksgiving Dinner
Holiday Feast

Do you work on holidays, especially the biggies like Thanksgiving and Christmas? So many people do, by choice or no choice of their own. I feel so sorry for those poor souls that have to work retail on Thanksgiving into Black Friday. Does anyone really need to buy a jumbo TV at 2am? I think not. I've often worked holidays, and never really thought about it.

It started my senior year in college. Turkey Day was approaching. I was working on my senior design project, costumes for a production of Molière's Tartuffe, and finals were right around the corner. I had so much work to do, was exhausted, and saw no point in traveling home for Thanksgiving. I'd be home for Christmas in a few more weeks. My mother didn't take the news well, but I think she understood.

Takeout Pizza
Yummy Pizza

On the big day I went to the costume shop and worked for hours blissfully alone. That night I ordered a pizza and washed it down with a beer, then unplugged the phone (only land-lines back then) and slept for hours. It was a productive and restful long weekend.

My (then) chosen profession, theatre, rarely gave holidays off. It was no big deal, just life in the theatre. Monday holidays meant little. Monday was our regular day off, but there were always weekend shows, so you couldn't take a trip. We just scheduled our vacations and holidays around the show calendar. Of course if something special came up you could always find someone to fill in for you.

Me 20's ish in the costume shop.
Me 30ish in the Costume Shop

We had Thanksgiving and Christmas off, but there were performances the day before and the day after the “big feast”, so you couldn't travel far. When I became a manager I worked the holiday shows myself so my assistants could have a few days with their families. I was happy to do it.

Sometimes the changeover (dismantling one show on stage, and setting up the new one) would happen the Sunday of a holiday weekend. My husband once worked a changeover Christmas night. Christmas fell on Sunday that year. I guess they thought working on Christmas night was more palatable than New Years Eve.

Then I became a self-employed artist. What's a holiday? I rarely pay attention to them. Most are just work days to me. But it's my choice to work, and that makes all the difference. No one is forcing me to do it. I can also take a little break and go for a walk, or bike ride. I doubt that's possible at Target. So many craft shows are on holiday weekends.

Setting up my booth at a show.
Setting Up My Booth at a Show

Here's a particularly funny show story that revolves around Thanksgiving: Quite a few years ago I decided to do a crafts show in Lancaster PA on Thanksgiving weekend. It was said to be a very good show. I decided to do the eight hour drive on Thanksgiving, and convinced my husband Al, to come along. We were staying at a well known hotel with an excellent restaurant. I made dinner reservations for 4pm. Maybe Amish Thanksgiving?

I've never driven very far on Thanksgiving. Traffic was terrible. We got to the hotel at 3:45 pm, just enough time to drop our bags and run to the restaurant. It was the last dinner seating, and we were the only diners.

Frozen Turkey Dinner
Much Like Our Lancaster Thanksgiving Dinner

The staff was not happy to see us, and stood against the opposite wall staring at us. Who could blame them? They wanted to go home to their own celebrations. The fabulous meal turned out to be gussied up frozen turkey dinners. While we were eating dessert, they started clearing the tables. It was hard to not to laugh. We were expecting them to pull the tablecloth off our table like a magic trick.

The show was great, the meal terrible, but memorable. Al loves to tell the story.

I'm pretty lucky my husband feels the same way I do. We are workaholics, but do enjoy being with our family and friends, and having our little celebrations. Sometimes though, the prescribed day doesn't fit our schedule so we choose another. It's never a problem, and often more fun.

What about you? What are you doing for Thanksgiving? However (and whenever) you spend your holidays I hope you have a good time with the ones you love.

Happy Celebrations,


November 1, 2021

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