What You Miss When You Don't Work on Christmas
PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- My stepfather worked for FedEx
Only when compared to the FedEx, UPS
While it was clear he'd rather be anywhere but the terminal on Christmas Eve, I get a better understanding of why he went in 1995 -- when I took my first job in journalism as a newspaper sports intern at The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. The National Basketball Association results, horse racing picks and transaction listings don't get a day off, and my first Christmas dinner away from home was spent cobbling together the sports section's agate page and failing miserably in doing so. I had only worked as a reporting and filing intern the summer before and got my trial by fire as a means of giving some of the other folks a night off.
It was terrifying, but it was great in its own right. That night the head of our sports desk, former Star-Ledger editor Rich Guenther, introduced me to the Italian Cheeseburger -- a three-patty burger on a hoagie roll coated in provolone cheese and a bit of marinara sauce and stuffed with french fries. It was served in a round aluminum container that caught excess cheese and fries and was a glorious holiday meal. It wasn't my grandmother's manicotti or my grandfather's candied yams, but it remains one of my favorite holiday meals.
On and off for the next decade, I was a Christmas worker. I'd willingly take my spot on the copy or pagination desk at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City or Herald News in what's now called Woodland Park, N.J. -- formerly West Paterson, for fairly specious reasons -- and enjoy a relatively light night of pre-packaged stories, the occasional police brief and one of the grandest traditions in newsroom or office holiday culture, the Christmas potluck. I replicated my grandmother's manicotti as best I could and, in return, received a spread of samosas, barbecue ribs, pudding, paella and other treats that would stuff the kitchenette fridge with enough leftovers for the next night's shift.