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For some, Christmas still means business

Holiday is another day for hospitality, health care workers

POSTED: January 6, 2008 5:03 a.m.
While many are at home breaking bread on Christmas, others have to go to work and earn it.

For those people, working on Christmas is just part of the business.

At 3 a.m. Tuesday, while many were at home dreaming of a Christmas feast, Chef Anthony Severino started preparing the 16 turkeys, four hams, five squash casseroles and hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables for Best Western’s Christmas Day buffet.

For the past 11 years, Severino has worked every holiday at Best Western. Before that, he did it at the Marriott in Atlanta and the Dillard House in Dillard.

"We’re very happy to be here on Christmas," Severino said. "Otherwise, my public wouldn’t have no feast, would they?"

Sous Chef J.R. Ramirez has worked at Best Western for three years, but said he has worked every holiday for the past 38 years. He and the crew at Best Western worked until 4 in the afternoon to serve nearly 250 people who had made reservations to eat at the hotel’s buffet.

Ramirez said it is part of the hospitality business to work on holidays.

"Otherwise, we’ve got to work at McDonald’s," he said.

Marion Harris, the hotel’s restaurant manager, said she has worked every Christmas for the past 20 years. Her husband waited at home while she worked from 4 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon

"It’s kind of a way of life for us," Harris said. "We just enjoy taking care of all of our local people."

Working on Christmas is also a way of life for those working in health care and public safety.

Chris Boykin and his wife, Kim, both worked on Tuesday. Chris Boykin is a firefighter and works part-time at the dispatch in Hall County, and Kim Boykin is a paramedic at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston.

In the Boykins’ line of work, Christmas is just another day, just not as busy.

"It’s generally quieter, because you don’t have people out at work," Chris Boykin said. "It’s like a Sunday."

This Christmas was one of many that the couple has had to work away from their two teenage daughters and their 4-year-old son.

For most who work on Christmas, the days of celebration have to be tweaked a little.

Harris’ family will come to her house in Dahlonega to celebrate the holiday together on New Years Eve.

Boykin and his family celebrated Christmas over the weekend. While their son is still young, it does not really matter what day the family celebrates, Chris Boykin said.

"He doesn’t know whether it’s December 23rd or 24th or 25th," Chris Boykin said. "To him, it’s Christmas."

Unlike most of the others working on the holiday, Severino has spent the past three Christmases with his wife Helen.

"My wife was aggravated with me so much about working here that I had to hire her," Severino said. "She’s here; she’s the hostess."



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