But Optimistic Attitudes Help

Being at work while others get to enjoy the holidays with loved ones can feel like a significant sacrifice. While some people volunteer to work on holidays, not everyone has that choice.

However, some people actually enjoy working holidays because it gives them chances to be creative problem-solvers for their work teams, along with opportunities to demonstrate patience and be a source of calmness in otherwise hectic periods of the year.

On behalf of those who don’t work on holidays, we’d like to share gratitude to those who do, such as emergency dispatchers, hospital staffs, convenience store operators, veterinarians and tow truck drivers.

Chesterfield Lifestyle spoke with three local professionals who are often on the clock during the holidays.

Dan Stoverink, captain, Monarch Fire Protection District

Thanksgiving is Dan Stoverink’s favorite holiday. As a captain for the Monarch Fire Protection District covering Chesterfield, he says he hasn’t really known anything else. His father also was a firefighter, so he says working during holidays was—and is—a way of life.

How do you mentally prepare for working the holidays?

It’s just something you accept. We’re fortunate that our families adapt to it. Now that I have grandchildren, it’s even more important to still find time to be together. We have smokers at our firehouses, so we’ll often make turkey during the shifts.

What’s the most eventful Thanksgiving shift you’ve ever had?

The times that all of our families, dozens of us, have come up to the firehouse, and we set tables up and all get to eat and visit together. I really enjoy getting to see and talk to my crewmates’ families. The trucks are parked outside ready to go, and sometimes those meals get interrupted, but they are still wonderful memories.

Why is Thanksgiving your favorite holidays?

I like the whole idea of it. And it’s nice that there are other people who appreciate us working, and they go out of their way to say thanks for being here. That makes it all worthwhile. Appreciating each other is what the holidays are all about!

Michael Wagner, paramedic-firefighter, Monarch Fire Protection Department

Michael Wagner knows firsthand what it’s like to be thousands of miles from home during the holidays, due to multiple years of his U.S. Marine Corps service.

You’ll be deployed to Jordan this Thanksgiving. Is it the first time you’ve missed a holiday due to deployment? 

Oh no, it’ll be my fifth deployment. But I’ve also worked holidays at the fire station, and we’ll make a whole food spread.

How will you observe Thanksgiving this year?

It depends on whether we’re at a permanent base or on the go in the field. If we’re at base, we might have a full Thanksgiving meal. If we’re moving locations on Thanksgiving, we may have to do it as a unit, just a bunch of guys, with turkey, gravy and K-rations. Sometimes, we’ll sit down and talk about Thanksgiving traditions, but it depends on our operation tempo.

Will you celebrate Turkey Day when you get home? If so, when?

I don’t know, I’ll have to ask my mom. My parents host Thanksgiving, and my siblings and I do a lot of the cooking.

Angela Gibbs, police officer, Chesterfield Police Department

Angela Gibbs concurs it can be bittersweet to work holidays but says she doesn’t mind it as much, given that she gets the chance to do it with her “second family” of police colleagues.

“I’m never in the boat alone,” she adds.

What are the hardest aspects of working holidays?

Not having time with your own family is hard, and unfortunately, in my position, I see families feuding on holidays and folks going through such hard times, they want to take a way out so that we as police officers are dealing with suicidal people.

How do you make up the time due to missing the holidays?

I usually miss out as the massive part of my family gatherings. As a single mother, we adjust accordingly, and our holiday schedule is different every year.

What are the benefits of working on holidays?

Citizens are great, and church members often bring us meals. It’s really nice to gather with co-workers and have a time to reunite around those types of holiday meals.

What are you most thankful for this year?

I used to work on the other side of the state, but most of my family is here. So I definitely am grateful about now living in the St. Louis area. Because of the people and this great community, this job during holidays reminds me that they still do care. That makes me remember why I want to do this job and how passionate I am about other people’s lives.