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The Pros and Cons of Working Over the Holidays

Ever since I took my first job in retail at the age of 18, I’ve envied my mother and her stupendous work schedule. She’s a teacher. A hard-working, completely brilliant teacher who pours her heart and soul into her classroom and succeeds in educating and caring for some of the most at-risk children in our area. I don’t like when people insinuate that teachers aren’t hard-working professionals simply because they get more vacation time than the rest of us. But man that schedule sure is cushy. Every year, I dream of saving my vacation days and taking a full two weeks off around the holidays, so that I can relax and enjoy the spirit of Christmas and time with my family. And for some reason, every year, I find myself working right up until the holiday, trudging in to the office on Christmas Eve and silently wondering what’s wrong with me.

That’s right, I’ve spent quite a few holidays working right up until dinner was served and presents were opened. And I return to work the morning after all those glorious gifts are unwrapped. No Day-After-Christmas shopping for me. And as a woman with some serious experience spending the week between Christmas and New Years back in my office, I’ve learned that there are some positives and of course a couple negatives.

  • Pro: The office is empty! Oh my goodness, it’s an amazing feeling to know that some jerk won’t take the last cup of coffee without starting a new pot. I don’t get distracted by stories about someone’s Great-Aunt forcing fruitcake onto them, at least not until next week. I feel like it’s possible to concentrate and really focus at the task at hand.
  • Con: The office is empty! My supervisor is gone, which means that I can’t get approval to move forward on a new project. The IT department is bare, so if my computer crashes, I might as well call MacGyver. (In my world, his name is “Dad” and he’s a communications engineer. Thank Heavens!) And if I’m waiting for a mock-up from the print shop, I’m going to be waiting for a long time.
  • Pro: No post-holiday catch-up. When people return from vacation, even after the holidays, they  have about a billion emails. They’ve missed a whole week’s worth of work, phone calls and deadlines. It doesn’t help that this particular holiday falls at the end of the month. Working through the holidays means that I get to skip all that stress and probably accomplish a little more in everyone’s absence.
  • Con: Family time. Obviously, the most upsetting downside to working through the holidays is missing out on special time with your loved ones. It’s hard to tell your parents, siblings or children, “I have to go to work,” when they are still in that joyful holiday spirit and ready for a little family bonding.
  • Pro: It shows an intense amount of dedication right before your year-end review. Let’s face it, January and February are the months for performance appraisals and promotions. This is a good time to show just what a hard-worker you are.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it to work through the holidays. Good luck and I hope you enjoy them either way!
Related: Stories:
Why Holiday Office Parties Are Important for Company Morale
Working Mom Guilt: The Holidays Are the Worst
How to Stay on Top of Your Work During the Busy Holiday Season