Working Christmas Eve

Noah, Christmas, 2008
There are many people working this holiday. Now that the weather is changing every hour, so too will the stories. The post about working Thanksgiving seemed to inspire me a bit.

I’m going to break this up into two posts. One on working Christmas Eve, the other about working Christmas Day.

There is a difference for some, but not others.

Remember the roads you took today to get to Grandma’s house or your Aunt Eve’s? Well, a snow plow driver was out there to clear the way for you. Granted, he or she probably earned double or triple time to do it, but money doesn’t matter when you want to be home with your family.

Don’t forget the dispatch of those plows, or dispatch for police, fire and EMS. They are always working in that industry. Always ready to answer a call to save someone’s Christmas as Lauren Squires wrote.

Even the malls and stores are open on Christmas Eve. That I can understand. The times earlier in the day need to stay normal. Not everyone is off work.

But it is the media members who are also there, giving you background sound and pictures for your holiday gathering.

Media members know that working holidays is part of the deal. I knew it, but didn’t really know it until it was time to work those days.

I was working as a board operator at KWAY-AM/FM in Waverly, IA during my sophomore year at Wartburg College. I had to close up shop and sign off at midnight on Christmas Eve. This meant I missed chili at mom’s, church with the family and presents opening had to be delayed until 1245 AM when I finally walked in the door. Thankfully, mom was not working that night, she was a night nurse at MHI and we moved up presents on nights she was working.

I didn’t mind working Christmas Eve during the day. You would cover last-minute shopping, travel, maybe a thief stealing Christmas or a fire burning the presents. You’d shoot a stand up and get out of there. Unless you worked nightside, then you were there until the news was done and hoped nothing happened at the end of the shift.

My last Christmas in Davenport at KWQC was 2005. Christmas Eve was a Saturday night. When you’re the weekend anchor, you don’t usually get the night off unless you ask. I worked that night. Amy was pregnant with Noah, her parents came over and we were going to celebrate the next day.

I was doing my normal close down of the operation on Saturday night, making sure Sunday was somewhat planned when the scanners just lit up like a Christmas tree. A fight broke out at a nightclub on the north side of town. The photographer on that night was long gone and I was closer than calling him back. There was no midnight escape planned at home, so I just loaded up a camera and headed out to the scene. I think every squad car in Davenport, Scott County and the State Patrol was there. It turned out to be minor stabbing, but who is out at a bar on Christmas Eve at 11p? Apparently people not feeling the Christmas cheer.

I figured it was payback for all of those years of departing a little bit before my shift was over.

Christmas Eve news is pretty standard. Norad images of Santa, how the last minute shopping is going, national packages on Christmas in Bethlehem and lots of looks at the weather. In 2009, the weather will be the big story.

Not many people actually watch the late news on Christmas Eve, but like anything, you have to do your job and be respectful to those actually watching. Its your job.

Sometimes the news can be more relaxed in the setting of no one’s watching, so let’s have some fun.

A nice tradition on KWQC was placing a camera on the Paula Sands Live fireplace and playing holiday music over the top of it. I believe that was the yule log idea started in New York well before any of us made decisions.

I did leave out one story about KWAY. I’ll get to that tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “Working Christmas Eve

  1. This Christmas seems to be turning out to be the ultimate working the holidays for the meteorologists! I’m lucky enough to work with some great people who are all willing to do their part over the holidays during a storm that picked an unfortunate day to move through Iowa.

    Holidays are some of my favorite days to work. People are all in a good mood, the atmosphere is relaxed, and there’s lots of food around the office. Plus, my co-workers definately are a part of my family… at least it seems that way with the amount of time I spend with them!

  2. Great stories, Paul. Growing up in a pastor’s family (and a church choir director’s, too) Christmas Eve was a “work day” but we were able to find creative ways to honor important rituals. Merry Christmas to Yeager family!

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