When Christmas is just another workday
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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When Christmas is just another workday

Christmas Day for most of us is usually spent with family and friends celebrating the holidays, relaxing and enjoying the time off work.But for some it’s just like any other day where they have to wake up early, put on that uniform and head off to work.

Most offices, businesses and restaurants are closed on Dec. 25 but there are a few in the township who will turn on the “Open” sign to invite in those that need that forgotten item or some batteries for the newly unwrapped toys.

Andrea Gagne, manager at the Short Stop on Church Street, says she doesn’t mind working on Christmas Day because she is single and has no children or family close by.
“It allows my employees that do have families to be able to spend time with them. I don’t mind working to give them some family time,” said Gagne, who keeps the store open from 9 to 5 on the holiday.

ANSWERING THE CALL Constable Joshua Kerr of the Waterloo Regional Police Service in Elmira will be working on Christmas Day this year. There are a few people in the township that work on the holiday, providing services that may be needed.

“It is also nice to be able to help those customers that have forgotten a thing or two and come in here in a panic looking for something.”

For the most part people are friendly and very thankful that the store is open and are usually looking for cranberry sauce, bread or batteries.

“It is usually the small things that people end up forgetting or they have unexpected guests that arrive and they come here looking for small gifts like lottery tickets or cards because there is nothing else open to sell things to them.”

Just down the street, the lights of the Mac’s Milk will be lit up as Vineet Sood opens for business. The manager of the convenience store doesn’t mind working Christmas day because she never celebrated it back in her home country of India.

“It can be very busy here on Christmas Day because as far as I know we are the only place open for 24 hours on Christmas Day,” said Sood. “People like knowing that we are open just in case they need something that either has gone bad or they forgot to buy over the busy holiday season.”

Customers come in looking for eggnog or breakfast foods like bacon, eggs, milk and bread, and Sood is happy to be able to make sure the people in her community have a place to shop when all the other stores are closed.

“I love working on Christmas because you are usually greeted with such big smiles on that day and people are very thankful that we are open.”

Convenience store clerks are not the only people working on Christmas Day. It is business as usual at the Waterloo Regional Police detachment in Elmira.

For those police officers that work over the holiday it can be either very quiet or quite hectic as the department tends to go to minimal staff to let as many people off as they can.
Sgt. Sig Peters, who has worked more Christmas Days than he can remember over the last 30 years, has seen the gamut when it comes to Christmas Day incidents.

“I remember one Christmas morning we had a fellow show up with a knife at his girlfriend’s door who wanted the Christmas presents back he gave her the night before so he could cash them in to buy more alcohol. We ended up having to lock him up over the holidays,” said Peters. “There are times when it is just like any other day.”

In keeping with the spirit of the season, community members tend to bring in some treats or baked goods for the officers that are working and it is greatly appreciated because sometimes the officers forget to bring a coffee or something to eat and would have to do without as all the coffee shops, including Tim Hortons, are closed on Christmas Day.
Senior officers are given first dibs on the holiday schedule but a lot of senior officers that are single or do not have a family close by end up working on Christmas Day to allow younger officers with children a chance to spend time at home.

Officer Joshua Kerr has been on the force for six years and this is will be the first Christmas he has had to work.

“It is unfortunate, but my family will still make the best of it. We will just have our celebration on a different day,” said Kerr. “A lot of times our families will build their Christmas celebrations around our schedules. If we have to work during the day they tend to hold off opening presents or eating the Christmas dinner until we arrive home. Being a police officer, it is something that they expect to happen from time to time. It is not that horrible because I have my second family here that I will spend time with.”

All the pharmacies in town will be closed on Christmas Day.  Damenjit Banwait, a pharmacy intern at the Shoppers Drug Mart at the corner of Church and Arthur streets, suggests that people who need to take medication stock up on their tablets, pills and liquids to make sure they have enough to last until the New Year.

“People want to make sure that they have enough medication to get through the holiday season because usually doctors’ offices are closed between Christmas and New Year,” said Banwait, adding the pharmacy will help those that need refills to contact their doctors before Christmas holidays begin.

For parents that have newborns or small children they should make sure they know which stores are open on Christmas Day because they may need something like Tylenol or Advil for a child but again the best idea is to stock up on those items before Christmas, said Banwait.

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