CITYWIDE — For many, the winter holidays are a time of rest. The kids are home from school, mom and dad can steal some time off of work, and everyone does their best to recreate the togetherness they wish they had the rest of the year.
But many in Santa Monica will be working on the days that the average employee considers free by sacred right.
Be for the tireless public servants or the men and women that keep the bubbly flowing, holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are just another day to make sure the cogs in the wheel keep turning.
No matter the date, the men in blue continue policing the streets of Santa Monica, making sure that celebrations don’t get out of hand and those Christmas and Chanukah gifts stay right where their purchasers put them.
There’s not an officer on the force that hasn’t worked a holiday, said SMPD spokesman Sgt. Richard Lewis.
“This is a 24-7 business,” Lewis said. “We always have to provide public safety.”
But for those officers with small children or local family, colleagues work to make concessions where they can.
“I like to think we do,” Lewis said. “Officers attempt to give each other an out on certain holidays.”
Younger officers and those that don’t have local family may juggle their schedules to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving to give relief to others, who in turn often take other festive days, like New Year’s.
Sometimes, however, the best laid plans of mice and men get disrupted by reality.
This year, Santa Monica will be overridden by up to 30,000 fans of the Wisconsin Badgers, the team which will square off against the Oregon Ducks in the iconic Rose Bowl football game in Pasadena, Calif.
Both teams will have their pep rallies here in Santa Monica over the New Year’s weekend, which will mean a step up in police presence to keep the peace, Lewis said.
“New Year’s Eve and day, we’ll have beach officers on the ATVs because one, there will be great weather and two, the influx of tourists to see the game,” Lewis said. “Those slots are not normally filled.”
If anyone knows the need to throw plans aside for surprise events, it’s Olivia Marshall and Julie Howard.
Both women are nurses at the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital, Marshall manning the Emergency Center and Howard working in labor and delivery.
Like the police, nurses collaborate to create their working roster, trading holidays like playing cards to assemble the schedules that best meet their needs.
Marshall works every Christmas without fail. She and her husband are Jewish, and choose to celebrate Chanukah with their children rather than the Christian holidays.
Marshall’s mother-in-law, however, practices Christianity, which means her kids can open their presents with their father and grandmother while Marshall works.
It’s the best of all worlds, Marshall said.
“I enjoy it because I know that I let my other co-workers spend time with their families,” Marshall said.
In labor and delivery, it’s a different story.
Howard, who celebrates Christmas, works most of those holidays. Rather than the normal 12-hour shifts, she and the other nurses trade out, more often, working only six hours in order to give them all time with their families.
Her seven children appreciate the time she gets around Christmas because, as they say, “It’s not Christmas the next day.”
Still, there’s no telling what the holiday will bring.
“I work in labor and delivery, so we have babies,” Howard said.
Some deliveries, at least, can be avoided.
“We finally got doctors not to schedule C-sections on Christmas,” she said.
Businesses with more regular hours and customer service needs balance their holiday demands in different ways.
Nikki Bell is a placement counselor for First Call Staffing, a temp agency in Santa Monica.
Her service gets the most calls right around the Christmas holiday, particularly for receptionist work, Bell said.
“I want to say it’s mostly car dealerships,” Bell said. “Everyone else is pretty much closed.”
Well, not everyone. The service industry remains alive and well on holidays, particularly those that provide the fuel that keeps the fire going like Lisa and Joe Green.
The Greens own Broadway Wines and Spirits, an independent liquor store on the 1000 block of Broadway.
Rather than sacrifice their employees on the altar of holiday imbibing, the Greens choose to send their workers home and man the shop themselves.
They’re closed Christmas Day, but New Year’s they’ll remain open from 10 a.m. to nearly 10 p.m. to give last-minute shoppers an opportunity.
It’s not all altruism, said Lisa Green.
“That way, we can close whenever we want to,” she said.