In the past ten years, Mr Lighty has worked all but one Christmas day. This was last Christmas, when Baby Lighty was just 18 months old, when he wanted to be at home because Baby Lighty was so much more aware last year than during his first Christmas the year before. He wanted to be at home to see his little face light up at the pile of presents that awaited him, see him pull off all of the colourful paper, and see what he made of his first proper Christmas dinner. So for the first time in a decade, he asked if he could take some annual leave on Christmas Day itself, so that he didn’t have to work at Christmas.
I should say, on the whole, when it comes to Mr Lighty having to work at Christmas, we are actually incredibly lucky. It’s never really been a problem for us as a couple that he works on Christmas Day, and we’ve just worked round it. Furthermore, he normally only has to work a half day, rather than a full day, and normally if he works on Christmas Day, it means that he can have Boxing Day off. I know that there are many, many more families who are completely separated by work at Christmas. For us, it’s always been just one of those things, not a massive deal and something that we’ve got used to.
And before Baby Lighty’s arrival, I wasn’t too worried about him having to work at Christmas once the baby was here, either. Mr Lighty and I talked about it when I was newly pregnant, and we decided that we’d just make it our Christmas tradition that we’d open our presents once Mr Lighty was back at home. I always said that my favourite Christmas day phone call was the one I get from Mr Lighty to tell me he’s driving home for Christmas, as that’s when our Christmas Day really began. But now that I have a two and a half year old? The reality isn’t quite as straightforward.
I must admit that I’m a little worried this year about having to explain to a toddler that Father Christmas has been, but that he can’t open his presents until Mr Lighty gets home. He’s surprisingly aware of Christmas for someone so young. It melted my heart a little at the very start of the festive season when we saw a Christmas tree in a department store and he told me “it lovely!” So how do I go about having to explain to someone so little, and someone who will be so excited by Christmas Day, that Daddy has to work at Christmas?
Well, I turned to some other parent bloggers to find our their experience of having to work on Christmas day, and this is what they told me:
I’m due to work next year on Christmas day as this year I’m on maternity leave. Next year my eldest will be 3 and it’ll be the first year that she properly understands and I’m dreading it. I’ll be working 9-5 so I’ll miss out on pretty much everything. Things will go as a normal Christmas day but there will be extra presents hidden away for the girls to open when I come home.
Jenna, And Then There Were Three.
My Hubby works Christmas Day depending on his shift at work. Last year we had our Christmas Day on Christmas Eve, the children had a letter from Santa to say he would come a day early because Daddy was working. It works for us.
Sarah, Champagne and Petals.
I often work on Christmas day. If I’m on an early, the kids can open a couple of presents and the rest when I get back. If I’m working late, we open all the presents in the morning. My kids have never seen it as a major problem.
Pete, Household Money Saving.
We have Christmas on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day every year! The kids get all their main presents from us anyway so we give them to them then. We have Christmas dinner and everything. On Christmas morning Santa always brings a small stocking with pyjamas, slippers and a little toy. The kids have never complained!
Star, Autism Kids on Tour.
My parents used to work every Christmas (landlords) and so we had a slightly different Christmas. Santa stockings in the morning (with a Christmas VHS to keep us busy) and then dinner after work at about 3/4pm with big pressies after. Also, Santa only ever gave us the stockings. All our other pressies we knew came from family. Think that made the Santa transition a lot easier when we were that bit older. We still do Christmas this way now (I’m 37!).
Sinead, Sinead Latham.
I worked Christmas Day for many years. We just time shifted everything. If I was on a late shift we opened presents in the morning, if I was on an early they could open a few presents before I left and the rest when I got home.
Sally, Teddy Bears and Cardigans.
My husband works on Christmas Day most years. This year he is on a night shift. We will drink together on Christmas Eve, and have a nice family time together. Then Christmas Day we are having our Christmas Dinner at lunchtime, so he can have some time to relax before work, and I’ve invited my Mum over to keep me company, and so she isn’t alone. Other years we have celebrated it on a different day. I’m hoping as our daughter is only 1 that we can do this the next few years if need be and she won’t know any different.
Katy, Katy Kicker.
I worked my son’s first few Christmases, my hubby filmed him opening his presents and some were left till I got home from work so every thing was normal really. Made lunch when I got home, had everything ready the night before. Just keep some presents to one side and say you must have missed opening these ones.
Laura, Northeast Living.
For various reasons we open family presents on Boxing Day, and do presents from Santa and any from friends on Christmas Day. We make sure that Boxing Day is our family day. I don’t think it matters too much about the date, more that we have a day set aside to celebrate together. If one of us misses Santa or friends’ presents being opened, we just try to make sure that we take plenty of photos and / or videos.
Jo, Cup of Toast.
We’ve been lucky so far in that Adam hasn’t had to work one whilst we’ve had the kids but he was scheduled to be down to do a night shift this year. Plan was to carry on as normal, kids would open presents in the morning and then go to my mum’s for dinner so we could enjoy some time together without the faff of being in the kitchen/washing up etc before he had to go back to bed. We would’ve left late afternoonish for him to go to bed.
Like most shifts you just learn to work around things whether it’s keeping a few presents aside to open later or delivering a Christmas dinner to someone at work!
Laura, The Chatty Chronicles.
What about a “magical” clock that you could put in front of the presents and colour in the segment of time that the hands both need to be in for the wrapping paper to be openable? He’s only 2.5 so might enjoy the visual anticipation of the clock counting down. Alternatively you could set a sleigh bell sounding alarm clock on your phone and tell him he has to listen out for it. Then occupy him during the day away from the gifts to avoid temptation? A walk in some woods, set up bird feeders, bake mince pies, make some paper chains to decorate a room.
Hollie, Thrifty Mum.
We moved Christmas Day for us to Christmas Eve. The kids got that Father Christmas knew Daddy was working (6-6) on Christmas Day so made a special visit to them the day before. It meant they didn’t have to wait until Daddy came home.
Beth, Beth in a Box.
I really love all of these positive stories about parents having to work at Christmas, and I’m sure that this will also become part of our story as a family. Yes Daddy has to work at Christmas, but it’s not something we’re going to complain about; if nothing else, Baby Lighty will grow up knowing how hard his Daddy worked in order to create those special memories, and buy those lovely presents. Like anything in parenting, you have to do what suits you and your family.