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Harris Blackwood: Not all people have holiday off from work
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I hope you get to spend Christmas with your family, because nothing is more special than your relationship with family.

We often don’t think about it, but many people will spend all or part of the day on the job. Many of them are folks whose job is essential.

If you call 9-1-1 on Christmas Day and nobody answers, you’ll be pretty upset. A staff of folks will be on duty at all of our public safety agencies.

Should the Christmas dinner erupt into a Christmas fire, the fire department will be there.

Sadly, I’m told many of our police agencies get calls on Christmas to come and settle a domestic disturbance. I hope it’s not at your house, but if it is, a law enforcement professional will be on duty.

If that feeling in your chest after the big meal is more than indigestion, an ambulance with an Emergency Medical Technician will be dispatched to your location.

The folks at Northeast Georgia Medical Center tell me 1,800 people will work at its hospitals on Christmas. If being sick is your unfortunate fate for the holiday, nurses, doctors, pharmacists and others working their shift will take care of you.

Then other places choose to be open on Christmas.

Waffle House, for example, never closes. About 500 Waffle Houses are in Georgia. Over the three shifts, a couple of thousand people will be there to make sure you are scattered, smothered or covered.

Newspaper folks will come in later in the day and put the daily paper together for Saturday. I thank them for keeping us informed.

A number of pharmacy chains keep their stores open on Christmas for people who forgot batteries or even a gift. The same is true for convenience stores, also ensuring we have enough gas to get to grandmother’s house.

In the old days, telephone operators had to work on Christmas, which was one of the busiest calling days of the year. I doubt anyone younger than 40 has had to make an operator-assisted call, but we used to.

I did a story a few years ago about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The leaders of that religion, which does not observe Christmas, encourage their members to go and knock on doors on Christmas. I don’t know if that is work, but they may well be out there.

Some stores, which are open 24 hours for the rest of the year, will close around sunset on Christmas Eve and will remain closed until the morning after Christmas. I actually like the quiet that seems to take place after we have been to church on Christmas Eve. There is a hum that exists almost all the time, but it seems to go away for a few hours on Christmas.

For the people who have those essential jobs, I want to say thank you for all of us. We sure hope we don’t have call you, but are glad to know you are there.

For those of you who provide a service, you may be the only friendly face that someone sees on Christmas. Yours is a special job, too.

Thanks for being there.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on