Dear Margo: Between a Rock and a Hard Place on the Holidays

How do I tell my boss I can’t work every holiday? Margo Howard’s advice

Between a Rock and a Hard Place on the Holidays

Dear Margo: I need advice. I work in a chain restaurant as a cook making minimum wage. My manager recently told me I have to work three of the four holidays coming up (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day). I offered to work Christmas Eve and New Year’s, but not the other two.

I am a single parent with three small children, and I feel it is unfair that I would have to work a low-paying job on days when I should be spending time with my family. My parents have also said they really don’t want to babysit when they are busy hosting our large extended family in their home. They are loving grandparents who enjoy my children; they just would like to enjoy their holiday without the added stress and responsibility of keeping three kids happy and entertained.

Do I have any right to tell my employer I can’t work on holidays? It’s not right that the higher-paid employees in the company get to enjoy the day off with their families. — Working for a Scrooge

Dear Work: First, I would try reasoning with your boss, asking if someone without children could take the other two holidays. I would also tell him that four holidays is excessive and that you think your consenting to two is generous. I don’t know whether there are “rights” in this matter, but if he rejects your arguments, you must decide, in this rotten economy, whether the job or the holiday is more important. Perhaps check around first to see whether there’s another position for you. I wish you luck. — Margo, empathically

When the Time Has Come To Give Someone the Heave-Ho

Dear Margo: This soon-to-be empty nester is desperately seeking advice, or she may fly the coop! My husband of 20 years, a well-respected professional, is distant in every form of communication between husband and wife. When I try to have a conversation with him, the usual response is: “Can’t you see I’m doing…” or “I don’t want to talk about it now.” Then he gets angry when he hasn’t been brought up to date on family events.

I compliment him on the work he does around the house with his “handyman” skills, but I never receive any compliments whatsoever. It’s like he has built a huge fortress around himself. In the evening, while watching TV or reading the newspaper, he’ll be writing a “to-do” list. If I ask him about it, you’d think I was asking him to reveal a top government secret. If I ask what’s on his mind, the answer is “nothing.” If I ask what he plans on doing today, the answer is “I don’t know.” When I ask for an opinion about how we should fix something or handle a situation with our children, he tells me, “Quit nagging.” If he doesn’t get his way, he behaves like a toddler, storming off and then more of the silent treatment.

Our children are heading off to university very soon, and I don’t think I can tolerate this anti-social and “top secret” behavior anymore. I am faithful to this man, and I have kept my sanity by creating my own social network and activities with the children that do not involve him. Heeeelp. — Tired of Life Outside the Fortress

Dear tired: What are you sticking around for? If there is a redeeming feature to this uncommunicative and icy man, I couldn’t discern it between the lines. I think flying the coop sounds like the perfect response to this turkey, and the timing is superb. Something is eating him, but all right, already. I would do him the courtesy of announcing that you have had it with his peculiarities, and that unless he can give you a good reason not to, you are filing for divorce. — Margo, justifiably

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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206 Responses so far.

  1. avatar mayma says:

    I have to agree with Margo on Letter #2. Why stay? Be sure to get a lawyer first though. I suppose you could ask him to go to marriage counseling, as one last courtesy, but when he (likely) refuses, you can proceed from there.

    As for letter #1, I guess I don’t understand the question. You offered to compromise by working two out of the four holidays. Okay. Then what happened? You want validation for the way you handled the situation? Or you want Margo to agree that your boss is unfair? Why? It doesn’t matter whether Margo thinks it’s unfair, since you work this job and seem to have no recourse except to find another one if you don’t like the conditions. You aren’t in a position, apparently, to demand anything different, so you have to hope that the boss will agree to your offer of two out of the four days.
    (As for the grandparents, that is a different story. Why should they babysit? Why can’t one or two members of this big extended family help out with babysitting on that day? Hell, they can rotate every few hours, can’t they?)

    • avatar sandra b says:

      Seriously – my point blank question to him would be ” Is there a reason why you are stlii in my life? Get out.

    • avatar bluehour says:

      Looks like regardless of how LW1 got her current place in life…the real point of the letter is what do I do? And she can a. Try to swap with a coworker b. Talk to her supervisor and see what happens c. Just do it d. Get another job. I do agree that the advice to ask childless workers to cover is stupid. Other than that I am not going to superimpose my own feelings because there just isn’t enough info in the letter.

  2. avatar Violet says:

    On letter 1, in this job market, I don’t think you get to act like a diva on the holidays. You work for a restaurant, and it is expected you’d probably have to work on holidays. The answer to your question about whether you can tell an employer no when they ask you to work is, as long as they are complying with the law, you can’t. You can just ask nicely, and be prepared to quit or be fired otherwise. I know this is harsh, but the employer doesn’t care about whether you spend time with your kids on Thanksgiving. They are running a business.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      LW1 is not acting like a diva! She asked if she could be allowed only to work half the holidays, instead of ALL of them. Look, many if not most people are OFF during the holidays, and usually those who work, work some but not all of them because most employers understand employees want to spend some time with their families, so they have employees share the burden, not place them all squarely on one person. I think she needs to look for another job today where the burden is shared and that she can assume right after the holidays. She can quit right before Christmas, have Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off, then go to a job where the burden of working on holidays is shared. I mean, just how many people come into fast-food joints on Thanksgiving and Christmas anyway?

  3. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1:  I know the chain restaurant business pretty well having worked in it for 15 or so years.  I can say with about 99.9% confidence that you do not have a *right* to dictate your hours on holidays or any other day.  I have been thinking and I don’t know of any job that gives you *rights* to have holidays off absent a union contract that specifies same.  Perhaps the higher paid employees have the days off because of seniority or because they requested them months in advance.  But slavery has been abolished and you have an absolute right to quit your job so that you won’t have to work on holidays.

    My mother was a nurse which meant that the business (hospital) was like chain restaurants open 7 days a week 365 days a year.  (Some chains do close on 12/25).   I think in all the years she held that job she had Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off..NEVER!  She left in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner countless times.  It was a pain for us but my parents needed two incomes. 

    Here is a thought.  Get some more education so that you can find a job that gives you holidays off.  However, I must warn you that when I was getting my higher education I spent many holidays studying and writing papers etc. and missing out on the family celebrations.  Eat Turkey, retreat to bedroom or apartment and study. 

    LW#2: You know the answer.  Tell him you want counseling or a divorce.  Given your description of the situation it sounds like divorce will be the result but you never know.  Good luck.   

    • avatar luna midden says:

      There are many many jobs out there where you have to work holidays-I realize that the job market is bad, but if she is really only making minimum wage-she should try for anything else. I worked on  holidays for many years-I worked as an RN until I became disabled, my husband works MOST holidays-he works for Mass Transit in a large city-that to never closes. (and he is a supervisor-but they have a reg. schedule so if it is a holiday-it does not matter.)

      LW has to get some seniority or find a job, say, in her kids’ schools-as an Aid or cafeteria worker. School is closed, you are off. Yes, many people are saying go get an education-I agree. While that does not guarrantee a job, it at least helps your resume and you might not have to be paid minimum wage. As a single parent-she might qualify for free training, but SHE HAS TO LOOK-starting with county, city gov’t agencies. 

      Her parents might have an ‘attitude’ if they are constantly ‘dumped’ with the kids. They might be tired of being the ‘babysitters’ every day and night. She obviously can’t afford a babysitter on min. She can’t afford MUCH ON MIN. 

      But for as to whether her boss is being fair-if there is no union, there isn’t much she could do. Even with unions-I was in a union and so is my husband-It was not covered, so, we had to work it out. At the hospital, we were told we had to take 2 or 3 holidays out of the 4 or 5 (depending if we worked nights-people wanted New Year’s eve off too.  If there was no agreement, the senior employees got first choice. And Abby-PEOPLE do not like being constantly asked to give up Christmas, Thanksgiving-IF THEY HAVE NO KIDS. Despite not having kids, there are some who really want to be with OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS on the holidays. (I have kids, but remember this coming up over and over again by some who did not want to work ANY HOLIDAYS because they ‘have kids’ even when they did not have any seniority. Not fair at all to make others who have put in their time-to feel GUILTY.)   

      lw2-why doesn’t she start a new life right now? If she is anywhere near accurate about the way he ignores her-He would  not even notice if she went off and did whatever. Just keep a post it board with any FAMILY UPDATES with a check box on them.      

      • avatar luna midden says:

        Sorry, I meant to say MARGO, not ABBY. (can’t even say it is because they look alike anymore 🙂 )

  4. avatar ZippyDoDa says:

    LW1-I don’t have kids and it really irks me when those that do will use that excuse for reasons why they cannot work on holidays. Hey, I want to spend time with my family too. Just because I don’t have any children doesn’t mean I am expendable. If you take a job in an industry that is open on holidays, then you are just going to have to deal with it. And if you are still there for the future holidays, make sure you give advance notice as to what you can and cannot work. 

    • avatar Sleepwalker says:

      Wow…everyone seems to think that an education and going back to college is the miracle solution to LW#1’s problems. I guess I missed that day of classes where a degree guaranteed you a job because I’m still busting my butt trying to find employment…any employment (and yes that includes fast food) at this point in time.

      You know what college did for me? I got a great education that doesn’t put me any further in life than the other million of 4-year graduates who are all trying to find work. It did however leave me $20K in debt and struggling to pay it off. It’s even worse for mother’s trying to get through college, not only do they have to keep working full time, pay for child care while they’re working and taking classes, they still wind up in debt living in the same crappy economy as the rest of us.

      I do agree though that LW#1 may have to suck it up for a year or two and work the holidays. She might have luck looking for work right now considering it’s the holiday season and they may be more generous with holidays off but in the end, she’s not going to end up any further along. The thing that surprises me is that she’s going to have to work all day on those holidays…most fast food places that I know of are only opened limited hours.

      • avatar Sleepwalker says:

        Gah…wasn’t meant for this entry in particular…sorry.

        • avatar KarrinCooper says:

          Sleppwalker – I agree! I have a College Degree in Journalism with a Minor in Medieval British History. (the Minor was for me….not a job *lol*). I have NEVER worked in my Degree field. A Degree does not always help, but it does get you more pay.

          LW #2 – when the kids fly the coop, you should too! I mean WHY are you still there. Sorry but to me, the way your hubs acts is akin to emotional abuse. You stuck it out, now go be happy!!


          • avatar sandra b says:

            There is no work in your degree field and you knew it going in to it. You go into college with one of two goals: getting an education that would get you employed or getting an education. Grow up; either your degree will get you employed or not, but you still need to own it and pay your bills. People who think any degree is a job guarantee never learned anything in college.

          • avatar KarrinCooper says:

            Actually when I got my degree in 1984 there WAS work in my field. So try that again fool.

          • avatar sandra b says:

            your’e the foll in your short sighted investment

          • avatar Community Manager says:

            Karrin – please see our Comment Policy. Your “so try that again fool” comment crosses the line. Further comments like this will be deleted and your posting permissions put at risk.

          • avatar SKY says:

            I understand that telling someone to “grow up” and implying that they “never learned anything in college” is not the same as calling someone a fool, but for some reason it just kind of bothered me to see karrin reprimmanded and sandra b not. But I guess foll is perfectly acceptable…Ehh, such is the nature of advice column comments sections.

    • avatar georgi says:

      I absolutely agree.  Margo, I love you but you are wrong to suggest that someone without children should pick up extra holidays so LW can be with her kids.  I understand the needs of people with children, but they assume it is their right to take off when necessary to go to dr’s appts, school functions etc.  Yes those things are important, but that does not mean that childless people should have to always pick up the slack.  Childless people are entitled to have lives and holidays too.   As to the comment that management gets off, that is true, sometimes.  But remember, this is not the 70’s if someone is in management in a hospitality or restaurant business, they work a lot of hours and they don’t get to just walk away at the end of the shift.  They work weekends, twelve hour days.  They take the heat when something goes wrong. It is a tough business and all of the employees, regardless of level or child status have to work a lot.  Some people love that, some don’t, perhaps LW should think about ways to improve her skills and get into a different field. 

      • avatar Lila says:

        Zippy and Georgi, I agree. When I was brand-new in the Army, it was common practice to pressure singles to take the overnight duties on holidays. Wrong answer! If someone wants to volunteer and trade duty days with a parent, fine, but singles want their holidays too.

        It’s supposed to go according to the duty roster, which divides duty days into weekdays and weekend/holidays, and soldiers are on the roster in a set order. There is a standard way to account for days the soldier is unavailable due to travel, etc. When your number falls on a holiday, that’s just how it is; others also serve their share on holidays.

  5. avatar impska says:

    LW1: If an employee is paid more than you are, that means your employer considers them to be more valuable than you. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that higher paid employees would be given precedence when requesting holidays off. There is nothing “not right” about it.

    In fact, minimum wage positions in most industries – including yours – experience very high turn over. There is a good chance that the people who are being paid more have seniority over you and they are likely to stay with the restaurant much longer than you are. Why would they invest in your morale over that of a senior member of their workforce? Anyone can do your job – that’s why it’s a minimum wage position. A good manager, on the other hand, is hard to find. In fact, it would be “not right” if the company favored minimum wage workers over more qualified, more valuable employees – and it would be a serious management error.

    It’s too bad you made three kids before you managed to get yourself the skills and education to get a decent job. You don’t mention your co-parent(s), so I suppose you also made three children before creating a solid foundation for a relationship – and the fact that the other DNA-donor(s) can’t take any of the children for the holidays suggests you pick losers.

    It would be wrong to punish your childless co-workers for your poor decision-making.

    You sound immature, entitled and whiny. And I suspect you already over-burden your parents with your free childcare needs, which is why they don’t want to work with you over holidays. Look to yourself and accept responsibility for your life.

    • avatar Carol David says:

      Wow, a little harsh, aren’t you?

      • avatar sandra b says:

        NOT AT ALL! People need to own their lives which are a complete reflection of the choices they made. Grow up. Put up. Shut up.

        • avatar S Hughes says:

          What if it was not her choice. e.g. She got divorced and her husband skipped out on child support, or she lost her better paying job and had to take that one.

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          Actually I tend to agree with Sandra—and yes, I majored in English. But I also have a work ethic and a brain and know how to make my degree work for me. It pisses me off rather highly to read sob stories on Yahoo about people who go $100K into debt for a women’s studies degree, and drag their parents into bankruptcy with them. There’s talk about reform in the student loan system—personally I think every single degree should be rated on a scale that determines the ease of finding a job, as well as how many graduates found jobs in their field—and anything lower than a certain average should REQUIRE full disclosure by the university and a mandatory counseling plan for the parent and student BEFORE entering the program.

          • avatar Nblueeyes says:

            gotta say your comment is pretty harsh considering that you don’t know this womans situation and why she is having to work a job she obviously does not like for minimum wage. I have been a waitress before and it is one of the most incredibly underpaid, under appreciated jobs out there. I feel sorry for you that you have to be so negative around the holidays that you can’t have one once of empathy for someone like LW1’s situation where she is not going to be able to spend anytime with her family. Hopefully you never have to endure this, god forbide anyone feel sorry for you.

        • avatar Community Manager says:

          Sandra – please see our comment policy – “Grow up. Put up. Shut up.” Really? Comments like this are not needed. Thank you.

          • avatar Diana Danh says:

            Look, I am a liberal as you can get, but even I have a problem with someone who has three kids working a minimum wage job. You can get birth control and child support and grants to go to school. I’m pretty sure her parents are tired of being asked to babysit, she probably doesn’t pay them what a babysitter should make. Grow up, put up, shut up are pretty cutting words but I can think of a lot nastier ones that COULD have been used.

          • avatar Lilitu Aster says:

            About your birth control remark, my brothers and I are all living proof that birth control isn’t always 100% and even for someone who is pro-choice, not everyone is able to handle an abortion.

            Btw where does it say her parents are tired of the free babysitting?

    • avatar lg says:

      Wow, way to make assumptions. Her “DNA donor(s),” as you so “cleverly” put it, could be out of the picture for a countless number of reasons. They could be dead for one, or possibly incapacitated in some way. Or maybe they are working as well, just to name a few. So why you’d ASSume otherwise is beyond me.

      Also, with the job market in the state it is in, I think, once again, you’re making quite a leap assuming she has no education and didn’t have a “decent” (in your self-esteemed opinion) job before having her children. There are former CEOs who are pizza deliverers now, so it’s entirely plausible she has a “decent” job before and has many valuable skills.

      So please get off your high horse and stop making yourself look like a pompous, know-it-all jerk.

      • avatar impska says:

        Why did I assume?

        Because the LW didn’t write “My significant other and I both work minimum wage jobs with jerky bosses and neither set of grandparents is available…” or “I’m a poor, highly educated but underemployed widow of three…” or “I am a former CEO, my wife in a coma and I only yearn to spend the holidays with my three small children…” “My ex has to care for his cancer-stricken mother and eight soon-to-be-orphaned siblings…”

        And you know how I know that none of those things are relevant? Because when someone is going through hard times, their friends and family step up and help them out. Unless those hard times are the LW’s entire adult life, and are brought on by constant poor choices. That is when your parents tell you things like “I don’t want your kids around for the holidays even though I’ll have a house full of your relatives who would be happy to see them and help me babysit.”

        If anything remotely similar to what you mention were true, people would feel sorry for the LW. They would want to help the LW. But they don’t. His/her parents, coworkers, boss: no one is willing to give the LW any slack.

        So why should I? Sometimes people need a dose of harsh reality.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          “And you know how I know that none of those things are relevant? Because when someone is going through hard times, their friends and family step up and help them out. Unless those hard times are the LW’s entire adult life, and are brought on by constant poor choices.”

          O, impska, I do wish I knew every single person’s experience on Earth just as you do. Then I could call myself god.

          I realize that this is what is referred to commonly as anecdotal information, but it all true, and highly relevant. I once had a decent job that paid enough for my husband and I to afford to decide to start a family. My employer showed every employee the paperwork for our new insurance that was being processed. I got pregnant. It was uneventful. Supposedly…

          Then, as happens in life, everything went pear shaped. The employer had lied through his teeth…there was nothing in the works. I had money in the bank, and we prepaid for the normal, vaginal birth that my doctor (highly regarded ob/gyn, female) told me to fully expect. Nearly ten months after conception…yes TEN…I ended up having an emergency c-section that my doctor should damn well have told me about…because my pelvic bones are too narrow to allow a field mouse to fit through, much less a ten pound baby. My son’s delivery and subsequent hospital stay cost $15,000.

          My family did not offer to help. His family refused to watch our child on the grounds that it would “tie them down too much”. No, we weren’t estranged from anyone. I helped his mother clean her house and took care of her every time her drinking made her unable to function. Nor did I ask for help. I took my baby to work…which wasn’t easy.

          Then, again without warning, we had no jobs. Our employer had not only failed to pay all of our vendors, but our landlords and the IRS. I had managed to put $8000 back in our depleted bank accounts, but we had to live out of those while we found jobs. The economy here was very bad at the time (right now, it is actually better here in Houston than most other places). His family still refused to help under any circumstances…but his mother screamed bloody murder because, when I found a job, it had such long hours that I couldn’t help out as much when she was “terminally ill” (she’s been in the hospital, “dying” at least 15 times in the 20+ years I’ve known her…oddly, she’s still drawing breath). I worked for $6/hr, and drove a three hour round trip to do it.

          No, families do NOT always help. Not everyone has large extended families, and not all families care. I was a model student in high school, had straight A’s, and was accepted at a number of “think tank” colleges (including Rice, Lawrence and Oberlin). I didn’t live in a time or place in which high school students COULD get jobs, unless you were on a work release program. Two weeks before graduation, my parents told me that they weren’t paying for my college education…they were building their dream house. Three years later…three years of full time college and full time work and a 3.75 average, Illinois hit its 1980’s depression. Lines of 100’s of people waiting for 2.25/hr, 10 hr/week jobs. I had to quit college because Mr. Reagan pulled all loans, grants and scholarships except to extremely poor, minority students (whether they qualified scholastically or not). I worked for a year as a nanny/housekeeper/laundress/cook/dog watcher for 2.15/hr. 12 hours, 5 days a week. No, my family did not help me…I cleaned my mother’s house and provided emotional support for my younger sisters.

          And so it went. I never finished college. I have had some jobs you’d undoubtedly sneer at (and you just go right ahead). I’ve made some poor choices…but they didn’t impact my financial status. That suffered because of things I could not have foreseen. There was no precedent for them. And your assumption that everyone has a large family that is willing to step up to the plate and help is ludicrous. Some families one could actually do without, such is the dubious nature of the “help” they give.

          O, and by the way…I’ve worked straight through more holidays than I can even remember, including after I had my older son. Yes, it stinks, but that would be life. If you’re in the restaurant business (chain restaurant doesn’t necessarily mean fast food, people, and those in food service get paid bupkes. If the LW isn’t head chef, then the pay will suck, even at a better chain) then you can be guaranteed long hours, holiday work and wretched bosses. In some areas of the country, that’s all there is.

          O, and impska? Not everyone feels they have to explain every detail of their lives to satisfy people lie you that their is sufficient reason for their current situation. And, no, I wasn’t dwelling on my past…just using my own historical, anecdotal evidence (I refuse to go to the mall and interview random people to get their experiences just to satisfy trolls) to illustrate a point.

          • avatar impska says:

            I’m sorry that you have a sad story. Lots of people do. The LW probably does. In fact, there’s a good chance that many of her co-workers have sad stories – the ones she wants to work on the holidays instead of her. I’ve trusted people who did not turn out to earn that trust, who screwed me, who stole from me, who left me high and dry, who told lies to and about me, who took advantage of me, just like you have (and I suspect, just like the LW did with whoever fathered her kids). Those were errors in judgment. I judged their character wrong. As I move forward in life, I learn from my mistakes and I make better choices in the future.

            If I refuse to recognize my own role in the choices that I’ve made and the impacts of those choices on my life, then I can’t do better in the future. If I blame everyone else for all the bad things that happen to me, then I give up control over my own life. By accepting responsibility for where I am right now, I can move forward and avoid repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

            Finally, I did not suggest that everyone had a large family. The LW says she has a large family and specifically says that her parents enjoy her children. Maybe she lied, and like you, her family doesn’t care. Maybe they are actually horrible people who take advantage of her. In which case, she should seize control and remove herself from their sphere of influence.

            We are responsible for what relationships we invest in – that is just another choice that we make.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Impska – so you blame YOURSELF when people screw you over? Seems almost co-dependent. Ever consider holding THEM accountable for their own crappy behavior?
            Imagining you can control how other people treat you is a comforting illusion, alas sometimes the only thing you can do is extract vengeance after the fact. Although if that is suitably impressive you will find that the victimizers will ‘choose’ to avoid you without any further effort on your part.

          • avatar impska says:

            You’ve misunderstood. I can only control my own actions. I can’t control what others do. Getting wrapped up in blaming them, without accepting my own part in it is giving up control over my own life. I can accept responsibility for how I act.

            If someone screws me over, I can’t change that. Crying over it won’t change it. I can only do my best to either make sure it doesn’t happen again, or fix what went wrong. Or I can play the victim and do nothing to change anything and just complain all the time about how my life sucks and the world owes me something.

            Obviously, there are true instances of victimization : if I am walking on the sidewalk and a drunk driver careens of the street and kills my whole family and leaves me in a wheel chair, then of course that person is to blame. That person should face repercussions for that they did wrong. But if I spend the rest of my life whining to everyone about how unlucky I was, and how much my life sucks now that I’m alone and in a wheelchair, that is entirely up to me. I am in complete control of how I move forward. That bad thing that happened doesn’t have to define me.

            Let me give you a more realistic, real life example though: I hired an accountant. I did not make any real effort to understand my taxes, I just let her prepare them and I signed them. In fact, when I asked questions about my taxes she told me that they were too complicated to explain to lay person and I just threw my hands up and stopped asking. One day I got audited and found out that she made some massive mistakes over several years. The IRS charged me fines, penalties, back taxes and interest. It cost me a lot of money to the IRS, to a lawyer, to a new accountant to redo the taxes – not to mention all the money I paid to the accountant to do the work in the first place. Sucks to be me. I can sue her for some of it, and maybe I will.

            But I also have to accept that I’m the one who let it happen. I signed the papers without understanding them. I let her dismiss my questions. This is what I mean by accepting responsibility for my choices, my part in the bad things that happen to me. Was she incompetent? Yes. Did she cause me a hardship? Yes. But I share some of the blame, because I’m a big girl and I let it happen.

            Just like I share the blame if I end up a single mom. I can’t control that my baby’s father was a deadbeat loser. But I picked him, so I share the blame. If I have no education, then minimum wage is the best I can do – but if I’m not taking classes to better myself, if I still have no education in ten years, then I am the one to blame. If I do have an education but am working minimum wage and I am unhappy, if I don’t have a better job in a couple of years, then I am the one to blame. I didn’t try hard enough. I didn’t set goals. If I invest all my money in a get-rich-quick scheme and lose it all, I share the blame for falling for the con.

            I don’t believe in walking through life as a victim. Maybe you do. I don’t know. It seems like common sense to me to look back on the bad things that happen in life and ask “What can I do to make sure I have a better future?” I don’t feel sorry for people who whine about life and act like the world owes them. I believe in taking what I want. It works for me.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Impska – as a person who maintains an iron-fisted control over her finances I halfway agree with you. But if your accountant’s previous victims had done a bit more whining you might not be where you are today. Or perhaps they did whine and you simply did not care to hear it. Funny how that works.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            “I don’t feel sorry for people who whine about life and act like the world owes them.”

            impska, if that’s what you took from my post, you have a reading comprehension problem. If you got that from L#1, you are projecting with extreme prejudice.

            I am a very successful person, both by my own definition, and by that of many others. By theirs’, I am happily married, own a pleasant, comfortable home that is well within our means, have a husband who is my friend, lover, a wonderful father…intelligent, funny, compassionate and independent. I have my health, and I am usually mistaken for someone about 14 years my junior. By my definition, I am controlling several diagnosed Axis I mental illnesses, am planning a return to higher education and a career in forensics (in the lab, not the lime light), am 26 years sober and clean…without benefit of twelve steps…have good friends and two lovely sons who are doing just what I knew they would (one far more easily than the other…but you cannot control everything), growing into adults whom I love and cherish, I have learned to read music, and my mind is active, sharp, curious and aware. No one owes me anything…and I don’t ask. Never have. I learned at a very early age that no expectations were best…except of yourself. I’m rarely surprised by people. Maybe that’s why I’ve survived.

            If you think that’s whining, you’re badly mistaken. I think you might be the one who’s kvetching a bit, dear. About all of these alleged whiners who are such a plague on your existence. Who just trouble you so. I bet you’re the sort of person who says, “I won’t”, or “No” before she’s even been asked by one of those pathetic whining people for some intangible. I’ve known a few of those. I would be amused by the refusal of something I hadn’t even thought to ask for…and never would. My response would always be, “Why of course. I wouldn’t have wanted to trouble you anyway”, or, alternatively, “What would make you think I’d consider asking YOU?”.

            I don’t know why everyone has chosen to virtually stone LW1. As I said, we’re in that “giving season”. A simple question, and the hens think they see a spot of blood. Always gets them pecking.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Who “blamed” anyone? My point was that situations can exist that happened because of events that were beyond your control. Not just the actions of other humans…my son being three weeks late, and being an emergency c-section…was governed by no conscious decision but by my physiology and biology. Yes, my doctor made a mistake…but there was no way to rectify the error or undo the situation once it had begun.

            O, I did learn, by the way. My younger son was delivered by planned c-section, I knew I had insurance, life goes on. I also married a man entirely different from the first two. We’ve been together 17 years. I am fully accountable for my mistakes. You really aren’t so very special. I wasn’t relating my own sob story, but I do think you may have missed the point.

            Because I don’t consider my younger life a “sad story”. That smacks of condescension on your part, as does your reproving commentary on living and learning. Also, you have begun that peculiar process of revising your commentary to cool some of the heat your experiencing by claiming to have meant something completely different than you first clearly expressed in your initial posts. It’s the awkward tap-dance of those who feel righteous about something, yet suspect that they’re just a hair off base.

            LW1 never blamed a soul for her predicament…except the managerial types who assigned her every holiday on her work schedule. She said her parents do not want to watch her children. All of the added information, impska, came from charming readers speculating on her high degree of promiscuity, her habit of lying down and spreading her legs, her lack of an education, the number of her baby-daddies (three at last count), her irresponsibility, her unrealistically high expectations, her failure to force her baby-daddies to provide financial and physical help, her fault for estranging her family, her poor planning, her inability to cope…shall I go on? All from someone who would simply like to spend one damn holiday with her children and family.

            You don’t know that she hasn’t learned from her mistakes. Or that she lacks accountability. Or that the restaurant job isn’t a second job to make ends meet (in some places, a single, career oriented job requiring a college degree in something eminently sensible will not cover rent in a house or apartment a single woman who wishes the bare minimum of safety for herself and her children could live in). You don’t know that she doesn’t bitterly regret decisions she made in the past, but is moving forward with determination for herself and her children.

            This thread has some of the most judgmental, narrow-minded, vicious commentary toward another individual I’ve seen in a long time. How the claws have come out, dripping venom, over a woman’s fairly mild plaint. Would it be different if she were a young woman living single, a thousand miles away from home, and hadn’t seen her family in years, and was trying to get home for just one holiday? Or if she were newly married, and her evil husband’s work had dragged her 2500 miles away, and she couldn’t get away (I bet that one would buy her snarls of righteous sympathy, and vitriolic epithets directed at The Bad Man)? And so many assumptions…good grief people…this is exactly, precisely, why I detest the so-called holidays. Which is derived from Holy Days. At which time we are supposed to be moved by that Old Christian Spirit, eh? I’ll say…the Old Testament variety. The one that stones women who don’t belong.

      • avatar sandra b says:

        And here you are making a boatload of assumptions why the losers who fathered these kids are absent – and to their credit: dead, disabled, delivering pizzas. Hmmm – and those paternal grandparents are likewise absent for the same reason? You’re the know it all jerk. The bigger question is why she didn’t sue these deadbeat daddys to kindomcom for child support and broadcast it on every trash media venue available to share their ownership. There’s 2 sides on the sword, refelected by my earlier comment. She created her problem. She is the only one that can fix it. Quit looking to other people to bail your a$$. People who want to help – will. How many of your relatives cringed every time you said you were pregnant. The best contraceptive is NO! No ring, no wedding, no nookie; and even that is no guarantee. Plenty of married guys never make it to the delivery room.

        • avatar lg says:

          Sandra, I wasn’t referring to you, so please calm down. And no, I want making assumptions, I was simply stating alternative situations to her children’s father(s) being deadbeats.

          • avatar sandra b says:

            lg – no I didn’t think you were referring to me – I am not in this situation and am already calm; oh – if these fathers are not in these dead, disabled or pizza delivery situations, where are they? She doesn’t even mention them and I see no reason to defend them by “stating alternative situations.” Daddy babies are guilty by no-longer- relationship omission – unless they don’t even know they have a kid. Equally, if she doesn’t hold their feet to the fire for child support (not just $, but active participation) than she is more than them to blame for her circumstances. Lastly, if women are not prepared to be a parent alone. then don’t go there; no men venture into parenthood alone; they don’t even think about it at the sex party. It is truly the selfish and stupid that don’t prevent or mitigate conception. Anyone who engages into a sexual/intimate encounter without accepting that they are affecting another potentital life unless they can guarantere that won’t happen is incredibly selfish. For the record – I am NO FLAMING burn them at the stake christian; been married for 38 years and would a
            take those kids for day care breaks.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Karrin, more curiosity than anything…whose gob ought to be shut? I hope it was Sandra. I really do. Because, obviously, she doesn’t understand that her situation, and fairy tales, and unicorns and magic mushrooms (o, wait, I do believe that is what she puts in her tea…and psilocybin is an actual hallucinogen) don’t exist.

          @ sandra: Yes, people make mistakes. But you can carefully plan a child, have everything set up as well as it can possibly be (not just leave it all in god’s hands and to god’s plan, or to fate, or let nature take its course) and still have everything go horribly, unexpectedly wrong for no apparent reason. I love the way she assumes “baby daddies” (plural, did you notice?). My older son’s father, to whom I was married, who showed, along with his parents, great enthusiasm for our child, lost all of that when he discovered that he couldn’t go on $3000 house boat trips, or $1500 skiing jaunts, or $2000 snow ski vacations…none of which we had done prior to the birth, or had he expressed any interest in before our little person was born. My MIL refused to watch the baby at all (my FIL would have, but then his wife would have run off to visit her family in Alabama for a month or two, and he couldn’t handle that). This was their first grandchild. My mother came for 2 weeks…then I didn’t see her for over a year. My youngest sister came for a week, which was all she could get free from work. My middle sister never came, nor has she ever seen my younger son. We are not estranged at all. She just never cared. My sons are the only grandchildren/nephews on my side. My father dies long before I had children, and my younger son’s grandfather is gone as well.

          You cannot foresee everything. Sometimes trouble happens: a flood that had never, not in over a century, washed us out of our home. We had records that later were proven, by FEMA, to have been falsified when our home was built in 1972. I purchased it in 1991, and our documents, legal and binding, showed our property free and clear on a 100 year flood plain, having never had rising water over three feet. It was a correctly raised structure. We got 12 feet of water…because we were in a flood way. $30,000 gone, two cars, gone, no home, no reimbursement, nothing. Yes, we had a lawyer when we purchased…I made no “poor choices”.

          My ex paid child support. the minimum. He refused for 15 years to have anything to do with doctor, dental, vision, psychiatric (my older son is high functioning on the autism spectrum, and is bi-polar II…I didn’t choose poorly, did I?), school meetings…anything. I asked repeatedly. I called. I emailed. The courts do not help. I could not have known that the child he said he wanted he would refuse to have anything to do with for over a decade. O, other than a check.

          Yup, I shouldn’t have married him. I was very vulnerable (but fully supporting myself) when I met him. Second bad marriage, fool me twice, shame on me. But I didn’t just have a “baby daddy”. Our child was discussed, planned, desired. Things didn’t go South predictably…it was a trainwreck from far left field. I WAS prepared to be a single mother. I kicked the loser out, took temp work (even without my college degree, I always manage to get good pay…the acerbic personality I display on WoW can go behind the mask I wear out of necessity when survival is at stake) and kept all of my bills paid. The child support was negligible. I did, in fact, stop letting the bastard near me…although I was on birth control pills, I wanted no “accidents” (my uterus, my responsibility), but more importantly, I was sick of being used as a love doll with a pulse for Mr. Hm-pah, Hm-pah Man.

          But, guess what, Sandra? Sometimes these ugly revelations come after one has three children…not one. Bad things happen. And I think you’re being a miserable, unrealistic, entitled, inhumane snob to not realize that this is true. I believe in accountability and responsibility. I don’t ask for hand outs, I’ve never had a little “mistake”, and I wasn’t just “lucky”…but, antagonistic, cynical bitch that I am, I’ve got more empathy than you. You’re well into B. J. territory with your proselytizing now. Maybe the two of you can form a new, seraphic nation.

    • avatar KarrinCooper says:


    • avatar JC Dill says:

      Wow, there sure are a lot of people who disagree with your well reasoned comment. Put me down in the “I wish I’d written it” column. I agree with everything you said.

      If there’s a father in the picture, I’m sure LW1 would have mentioned him. And if there’s a father in the picture, usually (not always, but usually) there are in-laws who are able and willing to take care of grandkids on a holiday when their mother has to work. If the in-laws are present but won’t help, I would expect to have heard more whining about how they won’t help (just as we heard whining about how her own parents won’t help). But all of this is missing in LW1’s letter, which is pretty good evidence that LW1 has repeatedly made very poor decisions about sex and birth control, and this is the type of life you can end up with when you make those poor decisions.

      My advice to LW1 is to suck it up and work diligently at her assigned shifts this holiday season. Then make a serious effort to find a job in a business that doesn’t stay open on the holidays, to be in a better position this time next year.

      One option for food service is to look for a position in an office cafe/cafeteria. Many high tech companies have in-house cafes to prepare food for their workers, and these cafes are typically closed on all federal holidays (all company holidays). They also often pay above minimum wage! Make sure you are doing excellent work at your present minimum wage job, so you can be a “pick” when you apply for these better jobs.

      Example jobs:

      (there are numerous ads for work for all positions (cashier, chef, dishwasher, etc.) at this location – looks like they are opening up a new cafe)

    • avatar Emily KKnaus says:

      Impska, can you be my best friend? We could pass so many happy hours agreeing with each other …

  6. avatar jpnlawyer says:

    Honestly, foregoing holidays for work is not something limited to those paid minimum wage. Many highly paid people work weekends and holidays, not because they want to, but because that’s what the job requires. I’ve known people who canceled very expensive non-refundable vacations with their families (against their will) because of last minute problems in the work they were working on. It didn’t matter that they asked for the time off months in advance or whether everyone knew about it. They didn’t like it, but they knew it was this or unemployment. The difference between those who stay at the bottom and those who make it to the top is in part what sacrifices they are willing to make to make sure the work gets done. You can bargain all you want, but don’t expect it to go your way if there are no other choices.

  7. avatar handy says:

    I was disappointed that Margo suggested asking the boss if those without children should work . I was single for many years and holidays were every bit as important to me then as now…in some ways even more, because I have family with me everyday now. Back then, getting together on the holidays was a break from being alone.

    As for the babysitting, it seems a shame that the LW’s family isn’t there to welcome in the kids when the whole gang is going to be there, especially since their only parent will be at work. She mentions a “large extended family”. Certainly in the midst of aunties, uncles and cousins, Grandma and Grandpa would have plenty of help with the kids. Isn’t that what family is all about?

    • avatar JC Dill says:

      Ditto on my disappointment at Margo’s advice to put the burden on those without children. It’s totally unfair to assume that people without children are in anyway less worthy to have the holidays off. We ALL want the holidays off.

      In some companies, they have a diverse enough workforce that some workers celebrated different holidays (e.g. some celebrate Yom Kippur and Chaunahka instead of Christmas) and those who don’t celebrate certain holidays are willing to work on the other group’s holidays.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        “We ALL want the holidays off.”

        Not me—I want that double time and a half. One thing no one has suggested to Miss Whinypants is that she pay to get someone to cover her shift, or swap with someone who needs a favor. People did it all the time when I worked in the restaurant industry. But I guess writing in to Margo to whine about The Unfair Choices That Life Forces Us To Make And During The Holidays Too is more up her alley.

        • avatar bright eyes says:

          David- if it’s a minimum wage job it may not pay double time on holidays. I suggested if she can’t work anything out with her co-workers about covering some holidays – how about splitting them? If it’s an 8 hour shift, they can each do 4 hours – one works in the morning and one in the afternoon or evening (however it works out). That way each one gets to be with their family and gets/has to work also. I’ve known a lot of people who have to change what time they sit down to Thanksgiving dinner depending on who is working what year.

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            The double-time-and-a-half is a generalization, meaning: “I’d rather get holiday pay for working [if it’s even available].” I don’t have any problem with splitting holiday shifts fairly between workers so that everyone shares some part of the burden. What I have always found ironic though, is the same people who whine about needing off for the holidays will whine about not getting enough shifts after the holidays, when it’s typically slower. They’ll complain to management about unfair seating, or that they aren’t getting busy shifts that other people had to work their way up the ladder for. They’ll expect people to bend over backwards when they need something, and be remarkably absent when it’s their turn to pay up for a favor.

          • avatar TheTexasMom says:

            I thought minimum wage jobs were covered by a federal law making time and a half mandatory for holiday pay and any hours over 40.  No?

          • avatar bright eyes says:

            David – Totally true. I have people who will complain about not getting enough hours, but then will say they’d rather go home than clean things or move boxes for me.
            TheTexasMom – honestly I don’t know… All I know is what I work with – and we have holidays off with regular pay. I don’t work with other types of pay, so I don’t know.

        • avatar KarrinCooper says:

          I actually liked working the holidays as well when I was hourly. A LOT of stillness and no one complained about the loud metal tunes blasting out my earphone 😀


  8. avatar Chels says:

    LW1: I work for a restaurant that is open 24 hours, every day of the year. When I filled out my application many years ago it asked the same question as the applications they have today: Are you willing to work holidays? I put down yes, because it’s the difference of getting a job or not. I don’t mind working the holidays, usually the shifts are shorter, you make time and half, and I try to make the best of it. My company also made it a little more fair by requiring that everyone works during the holidays. Thus, if you don’t want to work the holidays then you are not offered a job. Of course the higher corporate workers aren’t actually at the office, but they are available if we need them. Do I think it’s unfair…in a way, but really, life isn’t fair but you can’t change it, and I don’t dwell on it. You do what you have to in order to be able to work. If you can’t find someone to watch your kids then you will have to do what you need to do. Surely though, there is someone who understands that you will lose your job if you do not work, and is willing to help you out.

  9. avatar Grace OMalley says:

    LW1 I feel your pain.  I work for the only law firm in Western North Carolina that makes their employees work on Memorial Day.  Mind you, the attorneys get to take that day off.  But the staff is expected to be there with bells on.  The phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” comes to mind. 

  10. avatar Elizabeth L says:

    To: Working for Scrooge if he refuses to be reasonable go to corporate every chain has an employee hand book ask for one so you know what your rights are or post your problems on FB ( although that may get you fired immediately )

    LW#1 you have been a good wife and mom it’s time for you to hit the road and don’t look back.

  11. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#1: You have a large and extended family but cannot find anyone other than your parents who might share in caring for your children? Do you have a bad relationship with them? Are your children monsters? Something seems a bit off.
    For all on this topic, perhaps some reflection on why union-bashing seems to be in fashion. Often union rules can help employees to get fairness in work schedules. Rather than being viewed as the drivers of high pay and over-the-top benefits, unions are often the only way for an individual employee to get fair consideration.

    • avatar TheTexasMom says:

      Post her complaints on FB?   Where do you think that iwll get her?

    • avatar impska says:

      When I was a teenager, I was a member of a union as a grocery store cashier. The union guaranteed that I got holiday pay on official holidays, but otherwise it protected employees with seniority. I suspect that if this LW was in a union, she’d get time and a half (or, at best, double time) – and she may, anyway, at a chain restaurant – and otherwise senior members of the workforce would have their right to have the holiday off entrenched in the union rules and even her boss couldn’t get around it if her boss WANTED to be nice and give her the time off.

      What’s more, union dues can represent a hefty chunk for low-wage workers, who are more likely to be part-timers in order to get around union rules for full timers. Their dues then go to a union that protects the better paid, more senior members of the workforce while the low-end of the totem pole sees no real benefit.

  12. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    With LW1, it’s time to suck it up. This is the nature of low-wage chain restaurant work. The higher paid employees there are likely higher paid partly because they have put in their time working holidays – and now they get them off. Also, I suspect you could have gotten a couple of those holidays off if you had put in a request early enough. Wasn’t this something you investigated when you took the job? Your only option right now is to negotiate with your co-workers regarding swapping shifts really. But don’t start in with the “this isn’t fair” – that’s an excuse for children, not someone who’s raising three of their own.

    And why the heck can’t your large extended family look after your kids while you’re working on a holiday?

  13. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    LW2, DTMFA. Doesn’t seem to be any reason to salvage the relationship.

  14. avatar savena says:

    LW1: why not ask the person who contributed the sperm of your 3 children to help out with watching both of your 3 children. You could also has the kid’s grandparent’s on their dad’s side for a hand as well. I’m assuming because you were surprised about the holiday work schedule that this is your first year with the employer. When you are new man on the totem pole you tend to get the sh*ttier hours, hopefully that will improve with time. If you are not willing to accept the terms of your employment (working holidays), you can always quit your job.

  15. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Letter #1 – No, you do not have any recourse. Especially in the food service industry, they are big on asking at the time you apply about working holidays. If you were to say you weren’t going to work each of the holidays they (the managers) can whip out your application and show you what you agreed to work in writing. I apologize if this sounds harsh, but there is a reason they seek employees that are willing to work shifts that others would not. You wanted a job so you said and agreed to anything and everything to land that job. You did it, it worked… that they are holding you to your word you can’t turn around and say it isn’t fair.

    Letter #2 – As Margo said, ask yourself why you are staying.  What is it he is giving you that keeps you at his side and in the home you share?  If you honestly don’t know, it’s time to leave. Sometimes love isn’t enough. If you love him, what do you love about him and are those aspects still there. If not, leave. You would both be happier. 

  16. avatar Amanda ECW says:

    impska, you are awesome. I don’t have much to add because you pretty much said it all, but here’s this:
    My husband works for a fleet station of a large tow-truck company, working in their fleet instead of a subcontractor. For the first 5 years, the only holiday he’d get off was Christmas, because he’d put in for it 3 months in advance. That’s just the way “working” works until you have some seniority or are able to get promoted. Working in the fast food industry has a high turnover rate with little room for advancement. You really shouldn’t expect a low-level job like that to give you ANYthing outside of the minimum-wage paycheck. After 5 years, my husband got promoted and put on salary and now gets all holidays off. It took 5 YEARS. How long have you been in your job?

  17. avatar matchtuff says:

    Please don’t or do be offended. Mrs. Margo, I am so tired of the single people having to do more than those who have children in the work place. If you choose to lay down and spread your legs why do I have to pay for it. It is bad enough I pay for school taxes and I don’t have any children. This is welfare to me(taxation w/o representation). This woman should suck it up like the rest of us. She chose to have three children without or with someone who is or is not around. That is her bed again(she slept in 1 to have those 3 kids). I do not want to hear how someone who chose to have unprotected sex is in a bind because they have kids. It was your choice now you live with it not the rest of us!!!!!!

    • avatar mayma says:

      She chose to have three children without or with someone who is or is not around.

      She may be widowed, you know. Then it would not have been her “choice” to raise the kids on her own. Wow.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        My new attitude for customer service:

        “Please don’t or do be offended.”


        • avatar sandra b says:

          God you’re cool David. As for Briana & Karrin – guess what? Every letter and every point of view is not about you and your experiences being the center of the universe, and a two-page rant. Get over your selves, Just because some of us see things differently does not make us *snobs, trolls or bitches* your choice – your life; your choice, not our problem. End of story.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            Well said sandra…so how about taking your own advice? As in not repeating yourself ad nauseum regarding your own perfect world, perfect set of perfect circumstances, perfect planning, perfect everything. In perfect little rants that are not, unfortunately, as perfectly brief as you’d like them to be.

            You have engaged in this before on other threads, concerning other topics. You are particularly unbending in your firm beliefs that everyone can, and should, have experiences, behave and react, and live their lives precisely as you do. When more than one person disagrees, you react just like this, as if you were viciously betrayed and attacked, with a statement along the lines that “everyone has opinions”…the subtext being…”as long as they agree with mine”. It’s a forum, sandra. If you behave aggressively, if you are inflexible and contemptuous toward others, you’re likely not to get a very pleasant or positive response.

            O, and as for the thread being “all about me and my life”, let me clarify for you the meaning of anecdotal information: which is information based on stories from a given person’s life (loosely defined). I don’t want to go out and interview people at the Wal-Mart or Macy’s for stories, so I used my own. That doesn’t mean that I am making the thread “all about me”. At least not anymore than your repeated stories about your wondrous successes, and wonderful life, and etcetera…and probably less, since I have absolutely no expectation that anyone will, or should, do exactly as I do, or be exactly as I am. I use my life as an example…but I’m not personally important to the thread at hand, But apparently you think YOU are. O, dear. How awkward.

            So, to use your words, “get over your self”. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    • avatar EmmaS says:

      “I do not want to hear how someone who chose to have unprotected sex is in a bind because they have kids”

      How do you know what the circumstances of conception were? Were you there? All birth control fails – in fact, I have a friend who likes to say she has a kid for every birth control method she tried. Having kids is not the result of a choice to forgo birth control. Having kids is the inevitable result of being human.

    • avatar Anne Talvaz says:

      Parenthood lays burdens on people some childless persons refuse to understand. It is a demanding task and the related obligations are usually urgent and essential. However, if our societies are to have a future, we need youngsters to take over some day. Corporations need future staff and customers as well as present ones. And don’t we need our future teachers, healthcare providers, cops, politicos, … ?

      Well-raised children are a valuable and necessary contribution to society. If the childless do more paid work, that is their valuable and necessary contribution. We are all needed and should stop knocking each other.

      Signed, A Working Mum.

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Right on, Anne – although I don’t have kids I agree with you 100%. It amazes me how this society is happy to throw kids in the trash rather than give their parents the slightest support. Then they whine when those same kids grow up to be less than useful or even criminals
        Fact is that this is the predictable consequence of our society’s basic selfishness.
        Perhaps some parents made bad choices, but their kids didn’t. They deserve a chance too.

      • avatar disarrayanne says:

        Becoming a parent is a choice, and I should not have to bear the burden of that choice (speaking in terms of LW1). I have a great deal of respect for good parents and I’m grateful that they are raising good children who will hopefully be productive members of society. But when you make your decision to have and keep your children, that’s all it is. Your decision and your burdens. And joys if you want to see it that way.

        • avatar Sadie BB says:

          Disarray – so when their kids beat up & mug YOUR kids for lunch money or even drug money try to understand that this is a direct consequence of your CHOICE to abandon them without hope for the future.

          Something every kid should have. No matter what we think of their parents.

          • avatar disarrayanne says:

            Wtf are you going on about? I don’t have kids, don’t want any, and while that may no be the point of your comment, it’s true. And I’m not sure at what point I said I was abandoning anything or anyone. I just said I don’t want to have to carry the slack for some entitled parent. In fact, I believe I even stated that I respect good parents. (Yep, I did, I see it up there.) But even bad parents can raise good children.

            Anyway, sounds like you just want to put words in my mouth and gripe a little. Or a lot. Carry on.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Disarray – allow me to clarify.

            what I am ‘going on’ about is your responsibility to society and that includes especially the children in our society. Because when you cut off their parents due to perceived ‘irresponsibility’ you cut them off too.

            When society ( thats you and me) abandons children in need, they tend to grow up to prey on the rest of us. That’s the consequence of our choice to not ‘pick up the slack’ for their parents.

          • avatar disarrayanne says:

            Christ on a crutch, lady. Don’t paint me as heartless just because I don’t like people making the assumption that I don’t have a life because I don’t have kids and I can work for them. And if we can’t agree that there is a vast difference between a child in need and a kids whose mother has to work and can’t be around for every holiday then I’m done.

          • avatar A R says:

            That doesn’t even make sense, Sadie. What is it that you want the public at large to do? Raise others’ kids by proxy? How is it that you’ve made the leap from “Don’t ask me to work your holiday shift” to “abandoning kids without hope for the future.”
            I’m not following your logic.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Ar – please read all the posts. I am hardly the only poster, or even the first, to make the leap to the larger, more interesting & more difficult question. Nobody is requiring you to participate in it.
            If we look to Europe you will see that there is considerable support for parents and they could be used as a starting point. Before everyone starts yammering about the fall of socialism I will point out that Sweden Denmark and Germany are doing just fine, thank you.

        • avatar sandra b says:

          Right on disarrayanne – I’m totally with you. What is it with people expecting the rest of the “village” to make their choices work? I respect good parents and I love children. I am happy to participate in their lives but I am not willing to make other people’s kids my responsibility.

      • avatar Dorisan says:

        Working Mum, my childfree spouse and I covered for your type for over 20 years. We missed or rearranged holidays, took vacations during off-season so families could have the prime days, and just generally took the backseat to parents and their “more important” contributions.

        As the decades passed, our parents and older family members became frail and died without us having been able to spend those special days with them. We missed seeing our nieces and nephews on significant holidays. As we aged, it became more important to us to make up for what we missed before the chances were gone. Were we ever thanked by those parents for our sacrifices? Ha. Were our new requests to have holidays off, when we had previously worked them, understood? *pffft* Please. The guilt screws came out; even e-mails to management that we weren’t making our “contribution”. At that point, my spouse and I, in our respective workplaces, each put out a notice that we would no longer make those sacrifices and expected turns to be taken for holiday off-time instead of just assuming that we would cover for parents.

        40 years in the workforce for my spouse; 30 for me; and neither of us were EVER thanked for covering the holidays. I now look over the decades of holiday photos, most of which did not include us because we were working. If either of us had to do it over again, we would not have so readily given up our holidays or prime vacation days for parents.

        So, if you think that the childfree or childless should be “contributing”, take a few moments and consider what they are sacrificing.

    • avatar camb 94 says:

      You obviously do not understand the term “taxation without representation”. It has nothing to do with whether or not the money you pay into taxes directly benefits you. It has to do with whether everyone had a fair opportunity to participate in agreeing to those taxes. Thus, whenever a bond measure (for schools) is passed, regardless of whether or not you personally voted for it, it is based on representation. And you do benefit from public education whether or not you have children. You benefit by living in a society with educated adults who are capable of creating an economy that provides goods and services that you participate in.

  18. avatar martina says:

    LW1 – My parents had a bakery that was open 7 days a week and I worked every holiday eve because they, thank goodness, closed on the actual holidays.  I worked six days a week and every weekend and only had Mondays off which is one of the reasons I stopped working there.  But even after getting an office job, I was there on Sundays to help out.  When they finally closed the bakery everyone begged me to open up my own little place and told them to forget about it – that as much as I loved the work, I wanted my weekends and holidays off.  Don’t work in the food industry if you want your weekends and holidays off.  Hopefully, this woman can find another job.

    But, for all those telling this woman to get a degree – I invited my niece, who has a four year degree in accounting, for Thanksgiving and she said that she might not be able to.  She is on call for the month of November and might have to do inventory Thanksgiving day because they do inventory on the days the businesses they do work for is closed.  Having a degree does not guarantee holidays off.

    • avatar martina says:

      P.S. – It won’t be too much longer before they open the retails stores at 12pm Christmas Day to start their after Christmas sales.

  19. avatar Kathy says:

    My husband and I have both had to work holidays earlier in our careers, as did our parents – his mom was a nurse and mine a restaurant worker.  We figured it out.  You celebrate Christmas the day after or the weekend before.   What you don’t do is whine about it.  I would guess – reading the between the lines – that LW1 has been avoiding the consequences of her choices for years and her family is weary of it.   She had three kids – apparently with one or more deadbeats – and she’ll have to work her ass off the rest of her adult life, unless she lets the government pay for their care.  Which is likely happening as well.

    • avatar mayma says:

      ARGH! Again! Wow, people, we do not know anything about this woman except that she wishes she could hang with her kids on the holidays! Okay, she’s trying to figure it out, but to assume that she’s been “with one or more deadbeats,” that she’s on welfare (as though that’s some kind of proof of laziness, when she is working all the time), that she avoids consequences…. It’s just mind-boggling to me.

      Let me read between the lines a bit here. Why not? Since we’re jumping to conclusions? Since we’re creating fictions off-the-cuff?
      Her husband was a firefighter and died in the line of duty. Shortly thereafter, one of her kids developed a debilitating illness not covered by insurance. She goes to work with what skills she has. Because her husband had no family, she relies on her 80-year-old parents for help, which they happily supply, except on Thanksgiving when they want to focus on visitors. LW1 has been so accustomed to fighting for survival, to being self-reliant, that she doesn’t think to ask the visiting cousins or uncles for assistance on that day. She is exhausted — emotionally, financially and physically — and needed to vent.

      Go up-thread to Briana’s post to see how things can fall apart very quickly, even in non-deadbeat, responsible households.

      Okay? Sheesh. Stop calling her names.

      • avatar Irreverent says:

        Standing ovation to Mayma and all posters who so rightly point out that we DO NOT know LW1’s circumstances, that it’s wrong to make assumptions when there is such limited information provided, and that life can quite unexpectedly go from great to terrible in a heartbeat, through no fault of one’s own.

      • avatar bright eyes says:

        I agree – you never know what leads someone to be in the position they are in. Unless you go far back into their history – you can never know. But I find that people who read between the lines often put their personal slant on it. You never know what lead someone to be a single parent or to have 3 kids – maybe everything was fine and he decided he didn’t want to be a dad anymore so he ditched out, maybe a dinosaur woke up and decided to eat him – does it matter how she ended up in the position she’s in? She’s asking what can she do to get to spend time with her family at the holidays – not how she can ditch her kids with her parents (yet again) to go out and drink – be grateful for that!

      • avatar D L says:

        I’m just going to repost what I said further down the chain:

        I think part of the reason why LW#1 is getting such criticism is b/c of her attitude and sense of entitlement. She clearly indicates how its not “fair” and how she “should” be able to spend time with her kids on the holidays. It’s not “right” that the “higher paid” employees have the day off with their families? Really?
        Had she written in to say that while she doesn’t like the fact that she has to work on the holidays but will and needs help finding a sitter, I’d be much more compassionate to her. But her “I deserve this” attitude is really off-putting.

        • avatar bright eyes says:

          DL – maybe that’s what I was picking up on. Hummm…. didn’t people used to call that paying your dues? You work the crappy job until you get a promotion or get moved up and then you get the perks of not having to work the holidays. Seniority is usually the way things are figured out – right?
          I don’t work in a restaurant – I work in an office, and it’s the same way here. I’m a lower paid employee (vs the owners) so I go out of my way to make them happy. Can I come in for an afternoon although I’ve taken Christmas break off? Sure! You need me to come from the airport to work so you can line things out before you go on vacation? Sure. That’s what being a low person on the totem pole is. That’s life. She can say it’s not fair all she wants, but there is nothing preventing her employers from requiring her to work all holidays – if that’s what she signed up for. And is what I signed up for, so when I need to go above and beyond for the good of the company – I grumble about it and go on.

          • avatar D L says:

            Exactly. I worked in the food industry long ago and I remember how I didn’t get the holidays off either (except Christmas). Did I like it? Of course not! But there wasn’t much I could do about it. I was young so I had no seniority. I just didn’t want to do it, which is LW#1’s deal. It’s not that she can’t do it. Life’s never easy or fair.

            And I, like you, just grumble and go about my day!

          • avatar David Bolton says:

            Well of course no one wants to work the holidays—that is, until the holiday shifts become busy and people make lots and lots of money. One restaurant I worked at started a tradition called “Homeless Thanksgiving,” and sent out invites to tons of regulars who—if they were going to be alone or didn’t feel like cooking—they could come join us. All we did was set up a buffet and clean plates—it was extremely easy and servers made tons of money. And voilá, suddenly it became a popular shift to work. Same with New Year’s Eve, which is usually one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Well, it could be that she’s not a terribly accomplished writer, that she’s exhausted, and that she’s coming across poorly. I’m not just giving her the benefit of the doubt because I’ve been a working mother. I worked plenty of holidays then, true, but I worked plenty of holidays in the many years before I had, or even wanted children.

          To be perfectly clear, I believe that everyone has an equal right to time off on the holidays…dependent upon their type of employment (nurses, doctors, LEO’s, fire fighters and many others often simply can’t have time off. Others, like my husband, are always on call…even on vacation. Restaurant workers, and some chain stores have holiday hours…and part-time workers often suffer more than anyone else. That’s life) and often upon seniority, part or full time status or job description. Again, to clarify, I am talking about married, otherwise co-habiting, dating, single, straight, gay, young, old, childless or with children.

          We do not know enough about the LW’s situation. She may just have started this job, hence her low pay and lack of seniority. That doesn’t mean that this has been her ONLY job (she may have quit something worse, she may have lost a job due to company closure), only that it is recent. It may also be a second job…she may have a primary job, a day job, that pays better, that required a degree, that even has some benefits…but doesn’t pay enough to support herself and three children. Her husband…if there was one (and I’m not going to assume there wasn’t) may be dead. Or a complete dead beat, fled to another state and not working to avoid child support (a common practice in these days of wage garnishing across state lines for child support). His parents may not be close enough to help her, and may not care to do so…even if their son is an utter genus creepus, because he’s Their Baby Boy (some parents nurture rapists, pedophiles, and murderers…why not dead beat dads?). His parents may be dead.

          Her family may be just that way, Maybe her parents disapproved of her marriage, or her mother doesn’t like one of her jobs, or her father doesn’t care for the way she’s raising her kids (who may be perfectly nice little people…but o, the expectations of fathers for daughters)…or her mother resents that she won’t be around to help her on the holidays with the cooking, cleaning and entertaining. Maybe her siblings see her as a failure, or as the “spoiled one” who deserves what she got, or simply don’t want to be bothered. Perhaps her kids are difficult. Who knows?

          I’m not about to be adamant about what is going on because there is a serious deficit of information. Maybe she is entitled…no one deserves to be anywhere at any time. But she didn’t say, “deserve”, she said, “I should be with my kids”. Maybe it’s been a while since she got to spend any holiday time with them. It could be guilt she’s feeling, not entitlement. And exhaustion, and self-loathing…and even some self-pity…because the blessed season accounts for a lot of depression. And post o happy day suicides.

          It isn’t just parents who have a lot of “shoulds, woulds and coulds” during this time of year when regrets, recrimination, bad memories, mistakes and the ghosts of what-could-have-been come back to haunt us and can’t be easily exorcised.

  20. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    Excellent advice to both, Margo!

  21. avatar Donna Sampson says:

    Many many families clebrate holidays on a day that technically isn’t the actual holiday. My mother and father both worked jobs that never closed…mom was a nurse and dad worked for the police dept. We celebrated when people could get together which was usually NOT on the actual holiday. Now, my husband is a police officer and he is RARELY off on a holiday. It’s always been the norm with our family to celebrate when we can. Our children have learned the lesson you need to understand. It’s not the specific calendar date that makes it a holiday, it’s spending the time with your family that makes it a holiday. It really doesn’t matter if it’s on that specific calendar date or not.

    As to your parents not wanting to babysit, it sounds as if you already take enough advantage and they don’t want to be taken further advantage. It also hints to me that you need to grow up. Either find a job that will allow you the days off you want, or suck it up, put your big girl panties on, and deal with your situation. Do like some of the rest of us do and hire a babysitter even if they charge more for a holiday.  

  22. avatar David Bolton says:

    LW1: You should probably start looking for a new job, because I have the feeling you’re not going to last long at this one. Oh, and Christmas Eve is not a holiday (and neither is Black Friday, or your birthday).

    LW2: Listen to Mrs. Margo—she is correct.

    • avatar R Scott says:

      Wha..? My birthday not… Huh? It’s not a holida….but it’s my birthday…you mean it’s not……oh my…I have to have a bit of a lie down….. Oh heavens.

      (I haven’t even read the letters yet and I love your comment. Now I have to go see what it’s about )

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        R Scott = GIT BACK TA WORK.

      • avatar bright eyes says:

        ha ha ha R Scott … but I thought your birthday was when we had the parade? What does David mean it’s not a holiday? (kidding!)

        • avatar R Scott says:

          My birthday is near the end of November so some years there is a parade on my birthday  🙂  It is for my birthday isn’t it? I just assumed . . . . . .

    • avatar KarrinCooper says:

      Hey LW #1 – if you are in Texas my Company is always hiring. Good pay, benefits, union protection for most.


  23. avatar disarrayanne says:

    let me add my name to the list of people without children who are tired of being expected to pick up the slack for parents who assume that their lives are more important. at 31, i have been religiously taking birth control for almost 15 years because i do not want children, and my sense of forethought and responsibility is rewarded by having to work extra hours because someone has a soccer game or needs to have “family christmas”. do what i did when i worked retail, celebrate when you can. get your priorities straight ad quit being a whiner.

    • avatar disarrayanne says:

      *and. letting my irritation getting the best of me. 🙁

      • avatar mmht says:

        I don’t have children and I generally don’t mind working for my co-workers who do on holidays. Maybe its b/c I like my co-workers and know that they’d be willing to pick up a shift for me if I desperately needed it. I understand what you are saying though. In the past I have worked with many people feel that b/c they have children they are entitled to have certain holidays off or they can be late for work or leave early using their children as excuses. As if for those of us who don’t have children are not as important.

        • avatar disarrayanne says:

          agreed. i generally don’t mind working for anyone as long as i have no other plans. it’s the assumption that just because i don’t have any kids means that i have loads of free time or that my time isn’t as important as a parents that really bugs me.

          • avatar bright eyes says:

            You all don’t have loads of free time? Oh man – I was counting on that when my kid moves out of the house! I need free time! Only kidding!!! 🙂

    • avatar EmmaS says:

      “my sense of forethought and responsibility”

      Don’t forget your good luck, b/c even the more responsible can experience a birth control failure.

  24. avatar mmht says:

    LW#1: I feel for you very much. I work part time at a national food chain and when it comes to holidays, if they fall on the weekends I am expected to take them b/c it is my normal day to work. Generally, I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t have children and although I’m married, my husband understands. Thankfully, most of the customers on those days are so nice because they feel that you have to work.

    As for your situation, unfortunately if these holidays fall on your normal day to work then I think you have to work. You can ask him to compromise because you have small children but if he’s unwilling then you have to grin and bear it.

    LW#2: Why have you lived with this behavior for so long? It sounds like you do love your husband and you want your marriage to work but if you continue not saying or doing anything then nothing is going to change. Tell him that you want to seek counseling immediately, that you can’t continue living like you have. Tell him that this is not a negotiation or something to put off, if you both don’t go into counseling then you are walking. If he refuses then leave.

  25. avatar R Scott says:

    So, yesterday I’m working from home and posted here from my home computer. I did a post completely in Portuguese about speaking in foreign languages because a post about speaking in a foreign language in a foreign language would be funny…yeah, whatever.   It posted for about a minute then disappeared. I then made a little comment about that happening and then when I came back to play some more I was blocked for spamming! Seriously. I can not access this site from my home computer. Does WOW not like the Portuguese? I think it’s funny but weird.

    I didn’t even say anything dirt or mean.

    • avatar LandofLove says:

      R, sometimes in the past we’d see weird postings on WOW that were obviously spam but which read like they were from another country. Maybe your post tripped the WOW trigger for Portuguese spam.

      Do you really know Portuguese? I’m impressed. Bet it comes in handy at cocktail parties….  

  26. avatar FireyLady says:

    LW1 My response isn’t as much to the letter writer, who I do feel for, but to all the people who are making the assumption that her employment situation is of her own making. How do you know that? How do you know that she MADE the choice to be a single mother? How do you omniscient people know that the man (or men, since I don’t know either) that she had children didn’t run off, or die? How do you all-knowing seers know that her current employment isn’t of necessity rather than poor choices? In case none of you have noticed, this is a rotten job market. I had been looking for employment, applying everywhere and anywhere, for 2 YEARS! I only just got in at a little above minimum wage at a retail store. I’m seasonal help. I’m just hoping and praying that I do a good enough job to be allowed to stay on after the holidays! I’ll be lucky to be able to do more than 15-20 hours a week, but it’ll help. My husband, who is disabled, also works, so it makes it challenging sometimes. No, my situation isn’t all that unique.
    Nor is this inquirer, and for all of you who are getting down on this person for not appreciating the fact that he or she is being required to work all of the family holidays is simply mean. At least this person HAS a job! They’re NOT sitting at home, bitching about how tough it is while shooting their welfare check into their arm. They’re getting out there and busting their ass, for crappy wages, and trying to make ends meet. How is this person going to get anyone to watch their children on a family holiday? No, not all families help out. Not all families are loving and helpful. So then what does this person do? It’s nice that most of you have such idyllic, wonderful home situations where every parent is kind, loving and there, but let me give you a dose of reality. Not every family is nice. Not every parent wants to be one. Not every person who becomes a parent qualified to be one, nor are they qualified to be grandparents. And no, not every set of parents are willing to take on children for any reason, theirs or no. All I’m trying to say is stop making your mean, biased judgments about this person who’s just trying to get by, and wishes things were better. You don’t know everything. None of you.

    • avatar mayma says:

      :: slow clap ::

      It’s appalling. Actually, it makes me more compassionate for LW1, because these are exactly the kind of people I could not ask to look after my kids.

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Thank you Firey (and you too mayma, for your earlier comment)

        You said much of what I was thinking and without resorting the phrase ‘crabby old farts’ as I would have done!

        • avatar FireyLady says:

          Sorry about all the typos. That’s what happens when my fingers go faster than my proofreading skills! 😀

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      “I only just got in at a little above minimum wage at a retail store. I’m seasonal help. I’m just hoping and praying that I do a good enough job to be allowed to stay on after the holidays!”

      So how many letters have you written to advice columns bitching because you aren’t getting every major holiday of the winter season (plus Christmas Eve, WHICH IS NOT A HOLIDAY) off?

      • avatar mayma says:

        She wasn’t bitching because she didn’t get every major holiday off. Nowhere in her letter did she say that she expects that. She was talking about having to work three out of the four holidays. She understandably wants to be with her kids. She’s not going to get what she wants, we’re all agreed on that, but this twisting of her words — it baffles me. Maybe (since she is a single mom) she is just tired and frustrated, i.e., human. I truly don’t understand why that provokes people into name-calling and casting aspersions.

        • avatar David Bolton says:

          In all honesty—I’m not sure why she’s writing at all. It’s not like she doesn’t have clear options. One, give the shifts away. Two, swap shifts or pay someone to pick them up. Three, quit and find another job that doesn’t require her to work holidays.

  27. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 – You have every right to tell your employee you will not be working those holidays. I can almost guarantee you that if you just stand up to him you will not work Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Dayor the day after….or before…. Do that and report back and let us know how it went.

    Life is rough and then you die. You work minimum wage in a 24/7 restaurant. Been there. Done that. Lots of us have worked lots of holidays and bad hours and in bad weather, and blah, blah, blah…… Buck up, do a good job, be a good employee and someday you may be one those people taking Christmas off. If you can’t do that then quit and you’ll have a new thing to whine about.

    And, Margo, please. Don’t foist this off on people without kids. They have lives too.

  28. avatar R Scott says:

    LW2 – Is he rich? Hung like a horse? What?

  29. avatar tj goldstein says:

    It’s letters like Letter 1 that make me thank the high heavens I live in Australia and not America.

    Letter 1 – you should defiantely voice your concerns.. you have a right to do so. While it would be expected of you to work some of the holidays, pure commonsense dictates that for you to be expected to work all of the holidays is incredibly insensitive. As for the more highly paid employees being considered first.. so what? If you were hired before them, then seniority should really be taken into consideration. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Then again, you live in America.. with the crappy workplace laws over there, you could get fired by the boss simply by bringing up your legitimate concerns… once again, very very glad I live in Australia… employees are allowed to have opinions of their own.. even if they don’t conform to that of their bosses.

  30. avatar bright eyes says:

    On LW#1 I have some experience as the child of working parents. My father was in the military for many years (fitting that it’s Veteran’s Day – right?) and something I learned early on is – Holidays are whenever you make them!! You have to work on the B-Day? Oh well, celebrate it the next weekend! You have to work Christmas? Plan around your working hours. If you’re working very early shift – celebrate on Christmas Eve??? (Oh yes and my Mothers’ Birthday Day is Christmas, so there is another snag there – but we always celebrate for her BDay) You’re working the late shift – wake the kids early, open presents, spend time with them and maybe they will crash early for the babysitters. Or do the big stuff with them a few days before or a few days after – Christmas isn’t so much about 1 day as it is about being with family and celebrating – we can do that anytime as long as we’re together! 

    Did you think of asking someone to split the shift with you?? If that doesn’t work out – then get creative! Ask the family members that will be at Thanksgiving and Christmas to watch your kids for 1 hour (how hard is that??) each so the responsibility gets spread around to those who are willing – if nothing else than to give your parents a break! Pack up all of their new toys/coloring books/games, etc – make sure they have PLENTY to keep them busy. When I lived with my parents & son – I’d take him to the park just so they would get a break from having a baby around all the time! They need time and space also and asking others to keep an eye on the kids would allow the kids to be around and enjoy the family but, hopefully, take the pressure off of the grandparents. Or even pay one of the teenagers that will be at the party to entertain them – nothing expensive, but something they agree to.

  31. avatar Miss Lee says:

    Ltr #1, Years ago I worked retail.  I worked evenings, weekends and holidays.  Everybody did.  It was part of the job.  I didn’t want to do it anymore so I went back to night school and added another major to my college degree so I could find other work.  My first degree was in History and Political Science which only qualified me to “fill out a food stamp application”.  Those were my college advisor’s words upon my graduation back in the late 70’s  I added the core of accounting classes and eventually, after years of working up the ladder in the accounting departments of various businesses, got my CPA.  I now work in a small, local CPA firm.  Today I am the only one in the office.  The office manager left me a list of deliveries etc. that would be happening today.  I do other clerical work with her also – getting the year end tax organizers assembled for example.  I help out where needed in between the audits and tax prep that are “my job”.  All the “professional” staff in this firm help out also.  The pay is the same but my attitude of doing what it takes for the firm to succeed has put me in good stead with both the office manager and the partners that I work for. All work is valuable and I am not above doing anything legal to keep employed.  As a courtesy to my co-workers with children and grandchildren, I work Christmas Eve day, often by myself.  If I take a long weekend, I usually take a Monday or the Tuesday following a 3 day weekend as they usually take the Friday’s off.  I don’t mind and they appreciate it.  I have found that flexibility is a great virtue that too many lack.  I have rarely been unemployed.  Are the two related…perhaps.  All I know is that my employment is the only thing between me and a card board box under a bridge.  Reality bites but it is real.

    Ltr # 2.  I can only relate the advice given to me years ago by a wonderful Texas woman with hair piled to the sky and sprayed so firm that it would have withstood a tornado.  I was musing on why I had to wait a bit before I left my husband and she looked me straight in the eye and asked me if I was stupid and just how long I was going to remain stupid.  I had my own apartment the first  of the next month.  I never looked back and never regretted it. 

  32. avatar Karen Lauer says:

    Uh…  So Mrgo, what exactly is your justification for asking single people with no kids to cover for those that do??  Because single people with no kids have nothing better to do on holidays?
    It’s pretty frustrating to be labelled as the person who is always available to cover for those who have families/children.  Here’s a newsflash, though:  Sometimes, single people with no children DO have plans over the holidays… because you never know…They might be aunts, uncles, daughters, sons, cousins or friends of someone.  (And not necessarily just lying around with nothing better to do than go into work for others.) 

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      True, but when you have small children of your own & have to miss the joy of Christmas morning you will eat these words. I am sorry I wasn’t more helpful/less selfish to mothers of young children when I had the chance. Christmas morning just isn’t something that can be rescheduled or ever brought back.
      Holidays should be shared by all employees of equal status. A truly special person would give up their day to a mother of young children. Personally, I think the day should be broken down into blocks. We are pretty much done with the Santa part of Christmas by 0900. A young, single person who is staying in town could work the early part of the shift then leave pretty early when the mother came in. Most people without young kids don’t begin the holiday gifts & meals until mid-late morning anyway.

  33. avatar Jen McK says:

    Letter 1: “three of the four holidays coming up (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s Day). I offered to work Christmas Eve and New Year’s, but not the other two.”

    I worked retail for what feels like forever. They are not requiring you to work open to close on all of these days, but to only take ONE of these days off so that they are able to cover all shifts. Seniority always goes into effect at any company and when you have been somewhere long enough to have it you will appreciate it too. Offer to work an early shift on Thanksgiving so you can be with family for dinner that day, work Christmas Eve as that is not really a holiday for anyone, and work New Year’s Day as that is not a big to do holiday for the kids. Take Christmas off to spend with your family as that is a special day to the kids. If you don’t like your shift assigned switch with a co-worker. That’s what we always did. They are not asking for the world. Is this job important to your families survival? If so, you have to suck it up and deal like everyone else in the world does. It really is just one holiday season out of many and you all can make it special in other ways. Plus, you all can always joke about it later.

    Letter 2: Why stay with someone when you are both miserable when being single or finding someone that will love you for who you are will be so much more rewarding? The relationship you have with your spouse is the one you are teaching your children to have with theirs. Is this the type of relationship you want them to take part in? While they may be upset at first, in the long run they truly want to see both mom & dad happy in life as that is what they strive to be too.

  34. avatar Sadie BB says:

    lw2 – I have an acquaintance who had pretty much the same situation. Decades of marriage to a chilly distant man who basically saw her as a convenience. Sadly, she loved him.

    One day she woke up and did exactly what I do when dealing with unreasonable people. See to it that they deal with the consequences of their actions.

    She kicked him out of the house the better to contemplate what life would be without her & told him that unless there were major changes, that was it. They were done.

    It worked beautifully, he made a total turn around, entered therapy, but unfortunately while he was realizing what life was like without her, she was realizing what life was without him. She promptly divorced him.

    Ps. She was in her late 60s and no beauty. Didn’t matter.

  35. avatar susan hiland says:

    Lw2: Some people on this board are about as kind and caring as a wolverine with hemroids. Honey, here is my advice: in this economy beggars can’t be choosers.You’re going to have to stay at this job until the economy gets better or you find another position.That simple. So celebrate on another day. I worked in retail for years and I always had to work a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas. It sucked and I whined but I got paid. I still got part of the day to celebrate at least in the morning or evening. So you take what you can get and are thankful for the little bit of goodness.
    Americans need to look in there hearts and find some compassion for there neighbors. It’s a hard cold world but we don’t have to become a hardened nation. People need to start looking out for each other and not just to themselves.
    Many people don’t know there history, in the beginning of the industrial age we sent children as young as 8 years old to work in mines and mills. They worked dangerous conditions became sick with TB, and other diseases that shortened there lives and crippled them for life but they still got up ever morning and went to work. Whether coughing, limping, or bleeding they needed food on the table for there families.
    Put that into the perspective of missing a few holidays….

    • avatar Angeleyes13 says:

      Well said Susan.  That’s exactly what i was thinking!  I can’t believe how mean some people are being without even knowing this woman’s circumstances.  What happened to giving people the benefit of the doubt and being kind? We don’t know her circumstances and everyone is jumping to conclusions. Why is everyone judging when they don’t know the whole story?  Wow is right! 

      With that said, the economy is terrible right now.  Jobs are few and far between.  If you don’t like working every holiday, then you need to find a different job.  Its not fair to work every holiday, that is true, but some jobs require that.  When I was a server way back when, I worked every holiday.  Guess what, I’m not a server anymore, thank God!  Its a tough job and I admire anyone that does it.  Celebrate your holidays on another day and think about all the money your making to pay for Christmas.  Usually the holidays are very lucrative and you make better tips if that is what you do.  Have a heart people!  Its the holidays!

      Letter #2:  Life is too short to spend with someone that doesn’t appreciate what’s in front of them. If you’ve tried everything to fix things and you’ve tried to talk it out, and nothing has come of it, its time to move on and cut your losses.  He’s obviously not happy and your not either.  Some people outgrow their relationships and the other person.  Kind of sounds like it in this case too.  Go see a lawyer and know what your rights are.  Be informed, be strong, but love yourself too. Good luck! 

  36. avatar Sadie BB says:

    Lw1 – it’s a tough economy and, as you can see by the comments, it’s every woman for herself . Take a step back & realize that the holiday problem is minor compared to raising 3 kids on your own on minimum wage.

    It’s hard to get a job now, but easy to lose one and now is a good time to be unemployed – up to 99 weeks in a lot of states and usually will pay most of y our salary since your pay is so low. Check out the situation in your state & proceed accordingly. Use the time to prepare yourself for something better – and don’t goof off because it looks to be your only hope.

    Don’t feel bad about using unemployment – you paid for the first 6 months of it after all. And one of those miserable wretches whose 99 weeks has run out will be glad to take your job. In the end you will be better able to support those 3 kids. So it’s a win win win all around.

    Generally you can’t get unemployment unless you lost your job thru no fault of your own. So keep that in mind & try to come up with a two week illness or something. If it falls on one of those holidays you mention it’s sure to do the trick!

    For those who are wondering…no I have never had to do this. But I would not hesitate to.

    • avatar TheTexasMom says:

      Sadie, unemployment is not paid by the employee but the employer.

      • avatar TheTexasMom says:

        Oh, I hate it when I hit the submit button too soon.

        Calling in sick for two weeks just to bait them to fire you is bad advice.  Unless you have a doctor’s note and can prove you were really sick, in come cases you can get fired for “job abandoment” and will not receive unemployment.

        • avatar carol grzonka says:

          if you’re receiving any social services assistance to augment low pay, you can also be sanctioned, having your benefits cut significantly.   i worked EVERY holiday for over 20 yrs. and i was raising a child.  i survived, the kid survived.  the negativity of some of the posters seems to be a response to the entitlement expressed by the writer.  sorry to bring the bad news, but, THE JOB cuts into many more enjoyable experiences.  ihad it in both directions… the single mother and the single person.  it’s very overreaching to assume that someone has to pick up after another person’s choices just because they’re single.  married or single parent, i really believe that women should obligate themselves to only have as many children as they can financially care for by themselves, if worst comes to worst. 

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Carol – confused as to why that’s only the woman’s responsibility? Are men no longer involved in procreation? why are you giving them a free pass?
            And as for being prepared for the worst, dream on. Or read the other comments. Life can hand out some devastating blows for which no one can prepare. You are free to turn your back on others but don’t expect applause.
            To the original post – Being childless ( and godless!) I used to pick up a lot of holidays for others. Voluntarily. And I agree it shouldn’t be automatically expected just because you have no children. However the attitude of many seems to be that parents are not entitled to extra support frm society. I disagree. They are doing a tough job that benefits the rest of us.

          • avatar A R says:

            She’s not saying men aren’t involved. She’s saying not to have more kids than you could handle on your own *if* for some reason you *had* to. Its not a bad point actually. It’s the same as when people advise others not to have more debt than they could pay for if one spouse lost a job, and they had to survive on one. Same concept.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Ar- carol used the word ‘women’. That is just a fact
            And I would agree that it is wise to plan for a few bumps in the road. I also think planning to raise your kids all by yourself, forever, is over-planning. Although it would certainly explain why most of the women in my technical profession have no kids. too bad they won’t be passing their planning ability to the next generation

          • avatar A R says:

            Yeah, she used that word because *women* bear the kids. A guy can’t produce a kid without the woman, which means that at the end of the day, the woman has the *final* say-so over how many kids she will produce out of HER body.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Ar – ummm…the woman can’t produce a kid without a man – which means at the end of the day the man has the final say over how many kids he produces. Just keep it zipped and voila, no kids!!!

            Sex Ed 101.

          • avatar Briana Baran says:

            @ Sadie BB: I do understand the point you are making, and I agree that in a perfect world in which the biological act of reproduction instantly bonded males to females, and a social/anthropological contract was automatic when conception occurred, men would have an equal responsibility for the control of reproduction.

            But that ain’t the way of the world, and it never has been. Biologically, women are the sex that carries the child. We have the reproductive organs to do so. We go into labor and deliver those children as well. Biologically, men are hard-wired to impregnate as many women as possible to spread their genetics around. Biologically, women are designed to find a man with good genetics…and try to keep him.

            Anthropologically, there are benefits to both sexes in maintaining a steady bond. He is assured that the children are his, she is assured of security and safety. But modern society has weakened, not strengthened these basic bonds. Women no longer necessarily need a man’s protection, his support or him (Sex 101 is remedial Sex Ed, Accelerated Sex 400 explains sperm banks, Turkey basters, and whatnot. Technically, only a pron magazine and a jar and a man are needed…and your given female can shop for her best seminal option without dealing with a Mr. Hm-pah, Hm-pah at all. Lots of willing donors out there, even with all of the bizarre paternity lawsuits).

            So, bottom line, regardless of whether men should be held accountable, or simply BE accountable (and the decent ones…far more than people would ever guess by reading this website…ARE responsible)…it really is the woman’s task to protect herself. Especially in situations that have yet to be determined to be lasting, or worth expending the effort on for the test of time. My uterus, my responsibility. I followed this rule even when I was married, in my early 20’s, a drug addict and alcoholic, and my mental illnesses in a downward spiral. I wouldn’t bring children into my ugly little world. We had no insurance, Pills were far too expensive back then, and he refused to wear a condom, or consider alternative ideas. No Sex for him. No babies for me. No, I am not special…and I was street-rat-crazy back then.

            My second husband was just as bad. He didn’t want anymore children after our first, but he didn’t want to be bothered with using a condom either. We didn’t have any sex, or anymore children. Men don’t have to care in our society…not until recently, anyway, since those who try to do a fade on child support can be pursued across state lines and have their wages garnished regardless of where they plant themselves.

            Medically, there is not yet a way to make men temporarily infertile. Please don’t say a vasectomy. My husband had one, and he is one of a number of men for whom the side effects were horrible…and all of the men had theirs’ voluntarily. Good, married men, being good partners to much loved women. Men produce sperm every day, and science has not found a way to stop the production that also doesn’t render the man impotent, but also causes even more lethal side effects than The Pill.

            The onus falls on us, women, because, ultimately, we pay the price as we are the gender who produces the children. I never resented being the accountable one. I wanted to be in control of that aspect of my life. I’ve never, ever understood why any woman would resent the biological facts, or taking control, or being accountable…but then I am not exactly a trusting soul and I didn’t want to raise a brood on my own while my man drifted around, or after he (or several he’s…I’ve had a cousin or two, and a friend or several…in that boat) just up and disappeared. It is, as they say, what it is…right or wrong…shoulds be damned.

          • avatar A R says:

            Sadie, you aren’t making any sense. A woman has control over her own body to have or not have a child as she chooses. Do you live in another reality where a man’s desire for sex automatically means a baby? That’s not how it is on my planet.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Ar- if you just make up stuff and claim I said it of course it won’t make any sense.
            I said a woman can’t produce children without a man so at the end of the day a man has control over how many children he produces.
            People tend to focus their negativity on the parent who actually stuck around to raise the kids. On my planet that’s illogical.

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Ar- here’s an example to help you out with thinking about responsibility.
            You and I have committed a crime together. You put considerable resources into it, doing extensive planning, obtaining the weapons & ammunition, diving the getaway car, seizing the money at the bank etc. You could have backed out at any time.
            My only contribution was to shoot the security guard dead.
            They caught us. Who’s going to jail?

      • avatar Sadie BB says:

        Texas — really? Cause I’ve been getting it deducted from my paycheck for years! But might be different in your state. Employer does pay part of it here, but so does the employee.

        And as for doctors excuses … Around here you just call the doc & nurse writes up the excuse for you. It’s not like you are applying for disability or something.

        Employee rarely loses if unemployment award is contested…I did have one contested once by the subcontractor who they had farmed out the claims process to. Apparently they got paid by the rejection or something because they said the 10 of us had quit without notice when in fact the client had ended the project early for budgetary reasons. The other people on the project were all teary and hysterical at the unfairness. I simply called up the head of the temp firm that had hired us, explained the situation and informed him that unless he got it straightened out immediately I would have no choice but to involve their valued client to testify on my behalf at the hearing. And that was the end of that.

        • avatar TheTexasMom says:

          No, I’ve been working full time since 1980 and never has any unemployment insurance premium come out of my check.  I guess once our esteemed governor remember that loophole it may change.  I go realize ever state may be different.

          The LW problem is not getting the holidays off but finding a job where she can live withing the work rules.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Sadie BB, I was curious about the Unemployment Insurance deductions, so I looked it up. By Texas law, the employer pays all Unemployment compensation. I have lived here 28 years and never really noticed (but then, I never collected UI in Texas). In Illinois, where I did work, and also had to collect UI (in a disputed case that ended up going horribly, and very deservedly wrong for my creepy employer), UI was split between employer and employee.
          Well, Texas doesn’t have state income tax either. But we do have abstinence only sex ed., and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the nation. And Rick Perry. Eeee…

          • avatar Sadie BB says:

            Briana- people mock California but it’s a good fit for me!

            I was raised in the Midwest – a bar and a church on every corner. And a lot of dudes in non-ironic cowboy hats. Just not my deal.

          • avatar TheTexasMom says:

            Briana – I don’t remember if you have stated if you are self employed,  work outside the home for a living, or work at all but now is a good time of year to look over your deductions from your paycheck if you have one.  Most companies are offering open enrollment at this time so any changes you need to make can be done during this time frame.   I’m only saying is because you said you never noticed if UI was taken out your check or not (you don’t have to have filed to know if it’s a regular deduction) so something else that is being deducted that you really don’t want may be going unnoticed. 

            I worked as an office manager for a short period of time and handled the payroll and you probably would not be surprised to know how many people don’t know what their deductions are and what they are or are not getting for them.

            That’s my friendly public service announcement for the night.

  37. avatar Diane Shaw says:

    Ltr. #1, I’ve worked restaurants & retail and where holiday’s are concerned, that’s just the nature of the beast in those industries.  I agree 4 holidays is excessive, but what what can you do? If you can’t negotiate something else, then you need to decide if this is the industry path for you.  Margo’s advise was spot on.

  38. avatar cbs721 says:

    Thank you mayma, I have been reading the threads and am appalled at the lack of compassion of many of the responses.  There isn’t any minimum wage job that is easy.  LW#1 is a parent that needs some advice.  There is no information in the letter about the other parents or grandparents, but a lot of writers are assuming all sorts of negative scenarios without any facts to back them up.  I like hearing how other people view the life problems that Margo brings to our attention.  But the bashing I could do without.

  39. avatar TheTexasMom says:

    In regards to LW1 – NO, you actually have no rights to get any holidays off if the business is open unless it is spelled out in either your work contract or a union contract.

    Having been a single mom, I dislike Margo’s response to suggest asking if someone with no children could work.   Just beecuase you have no children or children at home does not mean you have no life.   Days off are usually based on seniority and that’s how it should be. 

    If you want holidays off I suggest you find a job that is not open on the holidays.   But be warned even in an office environment it will be a hassle.   I cannot begin to tell you how  feathers are ruffled when someone cannot get the week of Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break or July 4th because their kids are home. 

  40. avatar D L says:

    LW#1 – I do agree that we don’t know all the facts surrounding LW#1’s predictament (no husband/father, poor education/choices, estrangement from parents, etc). That was not presented in the post therefore I will not comment on it.

    But I will comment on what she did say: my, my, don’t you feel entitled.

    “I am a single parent with three small children, and I feel it is unfair that I would have to work a low-paying job on days when I should be spending time with my family.” Why is this unfair? And why should you expect any special treatment simply b/c you have 3 children? You’re not the first person to have kids. Are you implying that people without kids don’t want to spend time with or shouldn’t have to spend time with THEIR families?

    You mentioned that you are paid minimum wage and implied that others you work with are paid higher. Additionally, since you are so dismayed at working 3 holidays this year, I’m going to assume that you are new to this job. That tells me that you’re at the bottom of the totem people with no seniority. That’s just the way it is. If you wanted the holidays off, you should have requested the days off months in advance instead of assuming that you were special and deserved the days off. If you are still working at this restaurant next year, perhaps you will have those days off.

    “It’s not right that the higher-paid employees in the company get to enjoy the day off with their families.” Excuse me but why isn’t this right? You mean, it’s not accommodating to you. Perhaps they thought ahead and asked for the days off in advance or, as I said above, they have seniority and earned the right to have the days off.
    I don’t know what your relationship is with your parents but I don’t blame them for not wanting to babysit if they’re hosting a party. I’m surprised so many posters are bashing the parents. If they’re hosting holiday parties for your large extended family, I’m guessing that there will be alcohol involved, not to mention music and loud talking. You said you have 3 small children. Is that the best environment for them to be in at night? I didn’t think so.

    “Do I have any right to tell my employer I can’t work on holidays?” No, you don’t. And it’s not even that you can’t work, it’s simply that you don’t want to work. While it is a shame that you won’t be able to be around for your kids on those days, it’s not the end of the world as many parents have to deal with the same issue (my own parents did when I was a kid). You’re being asked to work 3 of the 4 holidays so put on your big-girl pants and do it. Ask your friends or neighbors if there’s any way one of them can babysit or perhaps reach out to the parental grandparents of your children (if you can). Maybe ask a coworker who has kids if they can watch your children while you’re at work.
    Life is never fair. You have to learn to roll with it and not expect special treatment.

    • avatar disarrayanne says:

      perfectly said. thank you.

    • avatar A R says:

      Well said, DL. It’s not about “fair” or “right”. It’s more an issue of what she wants not being feasible.
      As I tell my middle school students, fair is not a synonym for fun. In other words, when they say, “Work? On a Friday? That’s not fair!” I reply, “Wait, its not ‘fair’ or it’s not ‘fun’?” They think for a moment and admit, “Okay. It’s not fun.”

  41. avatar flyonthewall says:

    Enough with the bashing on LW#1. I’m with Mayma and Briana on this one. We do not know the whole story and this is quite a rough economy. Compassion would be of more use here.

    Here’s what I’ve got to offer you, LW#1. I’ve worked low paying jobs, too, where I had to work on a holiday. It sucks, but I did what I had to do. I learned to let go of old notions of keeping holidays sacred and traditional and went with the flow. I celebrated on my days off. In your situation with the pending holiday, you should have a conversation with others in the family and find someone who would be willing to keep an eye on the children while grandparents are busy. It wouldn’t hurt to ask around and try to see if there’s a low income childcare program available somewhere or just some alternative care for the children. I know this isn’t an easy task to find an affordable solution but keep trying. I don’t know what your education background is or what your resume is like but please try to get into some program where you can train to go into a better career that is hiring right now. Don’t give up your current job until you can afford to do so, too. Keep your chin up and keep trying for a better future.

    • avatar TheTexasMom says:

      Thinking back 12 or 13 years ago, I had to work on Christmas Eve because Christmas fell on a Thursday and we had the day after off.   My then undergraduate student daughter was very upset and probably called me every 1.5 hours asking when I was coming home.   I finally told her to let the moment be a life lesson for her to be in a position where she could call her own shots as to when she does and doesn’t work. 

      Lawyer jokes aside, she is a very successful attorney. 

      • avatar jpnlawyer says:

        Which is funny, as attorneys are at the mercy of the client. 🙂 When I was at a large law firm, I normally worked weekends and holidays, and 80 hour weeks were the norm (crunch time usually meant several all nighters in a row, 120+ hour weeks). Now that I am in-house, I am doing a very reasonable 40-50 hours a week (all holidays and weekends off), but I make 1/3 of before and the people aren’t nearly as exciting as law firm lawyers .

        • avatar TheTexasMom says:

          I know what you mean.  My daughter was offered very lucrative jobs at 2 different prestigious law firms and she turned them both down saying she would be making fistfuls of money but no time to spend it.  I kinda think she just didn’t want to relocate back to Texas as one firm would have sent her here. 
          On the flip side of the coin I wonder who she has pictures and video on.  She is a Prosecutor for Cook County and as an assistant state attorney she has never worked any of the major holidays.  I visited her during the Christmas holidays in 2008 and she was on call and when they did call her she had the nerve to ask them why were they calling her and couldn’t “they” handle it? I’m sure everyone in the office will  be happy when she leaves for the DOJ in January!

    • avatar D L says:

      I think part of the reason why LW#1 is getting such criticism is b/c of her attitude and sense of entitlement. She clearly indicates how its not “fair” and how she “should” be able to spend time with her kids on the holidays. It’s not “right” that the “higher paid” employees have the day off with their families? Really?

      Had she written in to say that while she doesn’t like the fact that she has to work on the holidays but will and needs help finding a sitter, I’d be much more compassionate to her. But her “I deserve this” attitude is really off-putting.

      • avatar flyonthewall says:

        I can understand your point of view, DL. For all we know the LW could have this sense of entitlement or the way the letter was edited down could make her seem as if she were this way. She could be someone who is just misinformed about employment and in a panic about childcare. In any case, this a person who is for whatever reason ignorant of how the world of employment really works. I know people in higher paying jobs that don’t get holidays off, for example. LW needs to understand that it really depends on the job and what hours you are contracted for and that whatever your boss says pretty much goes. I will agree that her attitude needs adjustment and she needs to be grateful that she has a job at all. I just don’t see the need of name calling and down putting when we can just gently say, “that is not how employment works – this is”. I say this as someone who had to work as the childless employee with single mothers who really did feel “entitled”, by the way. I do get what you are saying DL with the off putting tone of the letter. I just keep in mind that the letter we read may not correctly reflect the tone of the original letter because of editing.

        • avatar D L says:

          Agreed flyonthewall. I know all these letters are edited for space and content. Who knows what the actual story is. If anything, maybe all our comments (even the mean ones) will enlighten her or make her think differently about things (assuming she reads this).

  42. avatar Briana Baran says:

    O, well, hell. I have children. When I had only one, I was working full time, plus. I often took my son to work when he was a baby (I worked in the sort of environment in which this was a viable option…and I went into tank mode and bullied my employer into allowing it. He could not afford to lose me…if I went, he lost an enormous customer base…comics and RPG’s, darling-hearts…at two major store locations. Yes, I would have sold the customer lists in a heartbeat. I had good reason). When he got a little older, my (now ex) husband would watch him (I had fired him…don’t ask right now…the reasons were absolutely rational, fair and had everything to do with the business)…poorly. None of the other employees had kids, and I did not ever expect them to cover for me.

    I have never expected anyone without children to cover for me, take a hit for me, or to be of lesser importance than I am. I did, indeed, choose to have children. A conscious choice, not a failure to responsibly use birth control, an accident, a mistake, a religious prohibition or a let nature take its course bit of whimsy. I loathed children when I was in my twenties. I wouldn’t even baby sit. I used birth control pills, carried condoms in my purse (no wrapping that rascal, no fun…and I am badly allergic to Latex…which should define my determination not to get pregnant), and timed my cycle just about to the moment of ovulation (yes, I always knew), and only had fun…with the Pill and condoms…even when I was married…at the safest times.

    But some of you people are killing me. Such humor. Such enlightened attitudes. She just lay down and spread her legs. Tell me, females who abhor linoleum lizards, have you never just, “lay down and spread YOUR legs”? Personally, that is not the position I conceived in the second time (can’t remember the first, that was 21 years ago, with a walking talking penis, so I’m rather glad the memory has vanished), on the Winter Solstice in 1996 (yes, I know the precise date). In fact, I must confess, when it comes to things sexual, my usual habits do not include just laying down and…well, I am a bit less corpse-like than that. What an assumption being made that a woman must be bored witless by the act of coitus during conception, or is being coerced, or must be a dull, enervated lover who just lays there, flaccid and inert, whilst the act is performed. How lovely to stereotype the mother as sexless, faceless, a careless, fecund, mindless brood animal chewing her cud while she’s bred.

    We do not become un when we become parents. My husband of 17 years and I are certainly not “un”. Null. Whatever. Our children grew up in a house full of books, music and art…speculative fiction, ghost stories, H, P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, M. R. James and Stephen R. Donaldson, Joseph Heller and T. H. White. Frazetta, Giger, Parks, Strangely, Jones and McKeane. Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Cyndi Lauper, Led Zeppelin, Dead Can Dance and the Grateful Dead…but that is the tiniest sampling. We had no cable or satellite until three years ago. I danced with my sons to “Trout Fishing in America’s” music, and to Paul Simon’s “Obvious Child”, and read Stephen King’s “Bag of Bones” in a soft voice to put them to sleep. We hauled them around in a little red wagon at Ren Fest (our own wagon, long before this was popular), and I wore my babies until they got to big for their packs.

    Don’t sneer so, childless people. After all, like it or not, you came from parents. I don’t have anything against people who choose to remain childless at all. Neither of my sisters have any…and so? My husband works with other parents, and a few who aren’t. He puts in more over-time than most of the “withouts”, because that’s the nature of his job as an IT administrator. He puts in more time than his assistant, who is a divorced dad sans custody who sees his kids only rarely. The whole company is closed on Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving and the day after…but the days around those holidays are coveted as vacation days…and this is the first year he’s actually getting them. He is considerate of everyone. So are a lot of parents.

    So, give it a try yourselves. When our children are actually, truly ill ( a serious fever, a broken bone, vomiting) we might have to leave work. Most of us don’t like to do that, though I well know that there are a few who take advantage. Remember, when we take time off, we risk losing pay, our work load backs up, we have to work twice as hard to catch up, and, if our child is sick, we can catch whatever our darling little space alien has too. We are probably working (if we are talking JOB, not Career) because we have to do so. Ummm, just like you, come to think about it. I am not whining…I’m stating facts. Everyone has to eat, have shelter, pay taxes, have medical care, clothing (not optional in this her country). Yup, I chose to have a child, and this costs more…but I’d still be working with or without him. I might still take off work due to illness (in fact, some of the biggest slackers I’ve known have been single, no children, who would mysteriously be “sick” on the most tedious and difficult work days every other week or so. Or, alternatively, would develop nausea, or a crushing headache, on Fridays after the paychecks hit the bank. Odd, wouldn’t you say?) or other matters…but I’d still be working.

    O, and something else that’s got to be said. Quit your incessant griping about school taxes. Education plays fourth fiddle to everything else governmental in this country. What with Revisionist Tea Partiers trying to write out Thomas Jefferson, fanatical, Fundamentalist Christians trying to force Scientific Creationism, New Earth Theory and Intelligent (really?) Design into science departments, budget cutbacks that are killing all fine arts programs (except band…gotta have Band for Football, dontcha know), a lack of decent math and science teachers, abstinence only education, metal detectors in schools…this country’s society…not just parents and their children…needs every thin dime it can get to try to educate its children. To keep our public schools regulated, provide decent instruction and supervision, a fair and balanced secular education, and an environment that is controlled (I don’t mean Fascist), constant, safe, secure and conducive to learning. Not just reading, writing and math…if you think that’s all school teaches kids you are an idiot and utterly ignorant. Our schools need the money generated by school taxes, and, as a society, we need good schools to produce good human beings. Successful human beings. I don’t rate success by your social status, your toy count, or your bank account. I rate it by your understanding of society and your self, your accountability and sense of responsibility, your empathy and compassion…and your common sense and ability to think critically, analyze, move off your spot and outside of your box, to give and receive…not just affection…but knowledge, information, communication. To be endlessly curious, and always willing to learn. That’s successful. If we don’t support our schools, we’re raising a nation of entitled, boring, dullards. I thought this when I never wanted children at all…and I think it now. Stop kvetching about school taxes you wanking morons. Do you want to live in intellectual and cultural zombie land?

    I don’t care if people have children, or don’t have children. I do wish that people would have children a little more responsibly. I do wish choice was actually advocated for. While getting my hair cut, I caught a fragment of an announcer saying that the Duggars are pregnant with a 20th child. Unavoidably, because these people are somehow considered “news”, I know about the last poor little mite. People watch these vapid, intellectually, ethically bereft people in their prosperous wasteland of a family “home” on cable. Also, Texas, with the highest percentage of unwed, teenage mother, still teaches absolutely strict abstinence only sex education. And Michelle Bachman wants to take all reproductive freedom away from women. And “abortion doctors” are murdered in churches. So it goes.

  43. avatar ellie3231 says:

    Wow, I hate to say this, but LW#2 sounds like my husbands ex-wife.  And the reason why he was so ‘secretive’ was because she was so controlling and he could do nothing right.  Any time he shared info with her she quickly ‘shot down’ his ideas.  Dinner conversation consisted of his listening and not being able to join in – not for lack of trying.  Five years of counseling and HE finally got out. 

  44. avatar Nikki Sunset says:

    LW#1 I wsa once in a similar situation. I said I could not work. The restaurant fired me. I appealed or took them to mediation or whatever my legal option was. I lost. It is a case of the golden rule. The person or company with the gold, gets things his way. Look for another job.

    LW#2. If this is recent behavior my guess is he has a secret life- probably a mistress- and his distance from you comes from not wishing or needing to share his thoughts with you any more. If this is long term behavior then this is probably not the case but in any case you have my sympathy. If you decided to leave, speak to a lawyer first so you can know his (and your) assets before this respected professional starts to hirde them.

  45. avatar marmoset says:

    LW1 – I have no suggestions about finding a babysitter on the holiday, and I’m sorry to hear about your situation. But may I suggest that, as your children are small and a “special day” is more of what you create out of it than some day on the calendar, that you have YOUR Christmas or Thanksgiving the day before or the weekend after the official holiday. Invite a few of your extended family over for dinner and a party with the kids. I suspect your kids will care a lot more about you having a party! and celebrating with them than what date the party falls on. And hey, if the grandparents do have ’em over, they might get two Christmases out of it 😉

  46. avatar B.eadle says:

    My dad had a job that required someone to be there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The guys he worked with were kind enough to share the holidays. They would work it out amongst themselves who would have off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years etc. so that they knew all shifts would be covered. They split up the holidays, and yes…the guys with kids were usually the ones that had off for Christmas. They gladly worked Thanksgiving and/or New Years for the childless/single guys in exchange for the privilege. These were guys that shoveled coal in and out of rail cars and boilers, but they still behaved like gentlemen.

  47. avatar j d says:

    LW1: I sympathize with the predicament, but I don’t think you have any rights here, especially as it also sounds like you don’t have the seniority (time-based, anyway, as you haven’t been there as long). The good news is you will appreciate that in the future, if you choose to stay. And at that time, I bet you that you’d be even more upset if the boss didn’t give you those days off after sticking around and earning the privilege by putting in the years (everyone has to start off working the crappy shifts). And about asking for non-parents to work the holidays, it isn’t fair to those who might want to visit their families. I personally never feel that should justify working the lesser of the shifts, picking up slack, etc.

  48. avatar impska says:

    It’s interesting how heated L1 made this discussion. And it is a discussion, right? That’s why we’re here? While I may wish I got paid to be a cold-hearted, tell-it-like-it-is advice columnist, I don’t. I don’t really think, for the most part, the LW actually reads the specific forum that I’m posting on (though they’ve popped up in the past). Chances are, they don’t read my advice. And even if they did, people usually only follow advice if it’s what they want to hear.

    And that’s cool. I enjoy reading other peoples’ opinions and points of view, I enjoy discussing the advice and the letter. It’s an interesting exercise to read between the lines of the letter. I like to hear what people think about my opinion. When I post on a forum like this, it’s not personal.

    Today, it seems like people were taking it all a bit to seriously, though. I admit, I’ve never been called as many names as on this forum. And I post harsh advice in response to advice columns on a regular basis. People disagree with me all the time, but not quite in the manner that some of you here have.

    I think, perhaps, a few of you should rethink what kind of community you want this to be.

    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      Impska – if you post harsh camments you can expect a harsh response. Take responsibility for your actions, stop whining and move forward with what you have learned today.

  49. avatar Community Manager says:

    To all participating in this discussion – stop with the name calling. Abide by our Comment Policy or don’t participate.

  50. avatar mary burdt says:

    I am so glad this is over. I feel a little dirty after reading some of your comments about LW1.

    Such animosity. I don’t understand the need for such responses to this letter writer. She was asking for advice and what she got was beaten up. Not all of us are perfect.

  51. avatar Kordell says:

    LW#1: Unfortunately for you, with these type of jobs you won’t have a lot of flexibility in your work schedule. Also, you should not be looking for validation from Margo about this issue. Fact is the manager has to answer to higher ups in the corporate ladder and must have a skeleton crew ready for holidays. Also, Margo as a former manager of a chain of convenience stores, asking a manager to rework schedules to have those without children to work the holidays is a horrible idea. Remember everyone has a family, even if they do not have children. Childless workers complain all the time that they feel they get the short end of the stick all year round. People with children ask for “preferred” first dibs on the schedule to attend children’s recitals, sporting events, child doctor visits. If the child gets sick the childless workers have to cover extra shifts, and after this is done the worker with the child who still wants 40 hr a week paychecks ask me to talk to the childless workers to get some of their originally scheduled hours (Knowing that corporate only allows me to allocate so many hrs per week across all workers.) After doing all this, the worker with the child then wants the holidays too.

    To all remember, chance are childless workers already make more concessions on average than the worker with children. They make accommodations all year long for you. For goodness sakes, stop asking for all that and the holidays. Let them celebrate with their loved ones

  52. avatar Kordell says:

    LW2: Writing on the wall is that while you think you are just staying in the marriage to be faithful to him, he is thinking the same of you. You two have lost interest, more importantly from your letter (and I don’t mean to be harsh, just truthful) it appears that you have become something sort of an annoyance for your husband. From your choice of wording from your letter, I am making an assumption that you do not have a job or if you do it is a part-time thing that you do for fun. Also, from your word choices that your children are in high school and old enough to handle most tasks without parental supervision, influence or help (by this I mean wash themselves, make food when they are hungry. Heck they probably prefer to be at friends at this age and you see them sparingly).

    Your hubby is now devaluing your worth to the family unit. In the beginning you both brought something to table. One bought money, other brought domestic service. NOw your domestic services have diminished, however, he continues to have to bring in money and fix house. You need counseling or a divorce attorney

  53. avatar A R says:

    Well, let’s see.

    Single folks get tired of covering holidays for parents. Remember, single folks are *somebody’s* children too. Back in our college days, my mom and dad and my spouse’s mom and dad used to be so let down when we both had to cover all the family holidays at the restaurant we worked at. The boss’ reasoning was always the same, “We try to let the folks with kids have the holidays off.” Hm. All the holidays? Geez.

    The way I see it, the LW has to get over the holiday issue as long as she stays in the restaurant industry. That’s just how it is in that field of business: it’s the nature of that beast. Someone early in the comments questioned how many customers really show up on major holidays. Ha, ha—-you’d be amazed, truly amazed how many people eat out rather than cook—fast food included.

    People who are suggesting she get some education to improve her options—you are also right. Like it or not, crappy economy or not, it does tend to make you more employable. It’s not a magic bullet, but it opens doors to interviews that are closed to non-college graduates. At some point, one of those interviews will work out.

    Too, for those who bash college and complain about their debt, college is more than just a degree. You are supposed to come out with stronger thinking skills, greater communication and organization abilities, and the character to stick to a process. As my dad likes to say, “College proves you can see a committment through to the end. It proves you are trainable, and it proves you can learn”. Those are invaluable qualities to an employer.

  54. avatar TheTexasMom says:

    WOW, simply wow. My WOW is not for Women on the Web.   I’m truly taken back by some of the responses to LW1.  I think the question/concern of the writer was lost on a lot of the commentators.   A simple question of “Do I have to work all the holidays” became a question of her moral beliefs, does she spreads her legs for just about anyone,  continually makes a lot of bad choices by having 1, 2 or 3 baby daddies and she is probably uneducated.  To add to the mix there is name calling,  rude remarks flying, people writing 3 page dissertations and a whole lot of hate flying back and forth.  Really folks, y’all got all that from the letter?
    Whatever happened to Tis the season to be jolly and love for all mankind

    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      Texas – I know what you mean. I think it’s a sign of the tough times we’re in.
      Everyone’s desperately hanging on to what little they have and trying to justify their ( possibly necessary) hard-heartedness by demonizing the unfortunate.
      And the most unfortunate are the kids whose parents can’t support them.
      We may be forced to throw the baby to the wolves chasing our sled…but I still don’t think we get to feel good about it.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      @ TexasMom: “…Whatever happened to Tis the season to be jolly and love for all mankind”

      Given the origins of the Season, and the bloody mindedness of the religions that gave it significance (from Attis and Kybele, to Mithras to Christ…all worshiped on the longest night of the year with wild, and sometimes decadent, rituals and celebrations), and the vulgar displays of conspicuous consumption, avarice and socio/economic competition that are the earmarks of the holidays in today’s Western society…are you truly surprised? The Longest Night of the Year, the Winter Solstice, the beginning of the worst of the winter months of deprivation, starvation, cold and death, was not a time of peace, harmony and rebirth. That is a modern convention. It was the last desperate hurrah before the the dark and certainty of mortality closed in for a full quarter of the year.

      As for those “…3 page dissertations…” (I do think that is just a bit of an exaggeration), there were once a number of excellent, lyrical, prolific writers on WoW, readers whose posts were a pleasure and joy to read, even if too long for the *average* reader. It’s such a pity that most of these brilliant, awe-inspiring women have been driven away by those whose typical format is probably based in the brevity of text-speak, and whose comprehension is limited by literacy reluctantly acquired by barely attained public high school educations, and currently devolved by reading gossip rags and watching reality TV.

      Yes, I attended public school, by the way. We own over 2500 books. My son has his personal library. Only ONE of all of the women I know actually reads anything other than magazines and The Bible (I don’t mean Archaeological Digest, Wired, or literary digests…and I do think that news 1500-6000 years old is very archaic news indeed). They do talk endlessly on their cell phones that they “can’t live without” and keep up with Dancing with the Stars and Reality TV.

      Yes, I’m making a point. I love some of these people dearly, but I’m baffled as to how they exist. And the slow demise of this once decent and intelligent website is a sad and slovenly thing.

      No, I AM NOT speaking of you, TexasMom (and you have gone on at length a few times yourself, if I do so recall). But this site is hardly what it used to be.

      • avatar TheTexasMom says:

        Briana, I find it amusing and rather telling you felt as if my 3 page dissertation comment was directed towards you.  If I’m wrong I stand correct.  And I don’t think I’ve gone on at length on any topic as I’m too busy keeping up with Dancing with the Stars.
        And when you were in public school (and what does that have to do with anything?) did you not learn the term “rhetorical question”?  But thanks for the history lesson/lecture anyway. 
        Between this post and reading the grand jury report on Sandusky, I’m done for the day.  Good day and be well.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Well, guess you missed the part in which is stated that I wasn’t referring to you. So it goes.
          And I only mentioned that I attended public school because I HAD mentioned that a lot of the current crop of mumblers seem to have barely succeeded in matriculating from our fair public schools, and didn’t want the typical sort of garbage about having been sent to a private institution.

          I’ve had a lot of readers whine endlessly because my posts are just sooo long. My idea of a lengthy read would be “Don Quixote”, and I’ve never made it more than 100 pages into that massive tome, because it is, in my opinion, beyond boring. “War and Peace” comes to mind, as does Joyce’s “Ulysses”, and the entire “Twilight” saga (I’d sooner slog through “Ulysses” again). I enjoy writing. I spent years in silence. I am used to the uglies. I do find it a shame that so many brilliant women left WoW.

          As for the “History Lesson”, that wasn’t my aim. Atavistically, humans react as a species poorly to the coming winter months. In modern society, the holidays are times of pressure, social and personal, desperation, competition and anxiety. That’s why I’m not surprised by the rancor.

  55. avatar kjharrison says:

    Wow, Margo is way off base with “ask if someone without children could take the other two holidays.”  Why do those of us who do not have children have to cover for those who do?

    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      Kj- the word was ‘ask’. No harm in asking for what you want. Although if management is ‘asking’ it does have a coercive feel…lw1 needs to do the asking.

  56. avatar Anne M says:

    LW#1 sorry you have to work the holidays ~ I have spent many holidays without my sons. That is because 1 son was serving his country in a war zone. Another son works in law enforcement, nope criminals don’t take a holiday. So while you are complaining about not spending it with your family my son was on patrol hoping today would be a good day. Currently he is being medically discharged from the military due to injuries he sustained in combat, those disabilities will be his forever. If you have a roof over your head, food in the cupboard and a network of friends and families who care for you please do not complain. Holidays are really trumped up garbage spewed forth by the Hallmark Company. Any day you can gather your family and share a meal is a holiday in my book. Trust me things could be much worse. A women who has spent many a holiday praying for a phone just to let me know he is alive.

  57. avatar Island_Doc_to_KS_Doc says:

    An excellent education doesn’t guarantee a perfect working schedule. In fact, I find that sometimes the longer you’re in school and the greater investment you make, the more you’ll be called to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Going into medical school I knew that I’d already be losing lots of special moments with my family so I made the conscious and deliberate choice not to have children so I’d never be totally torn. I realize the option of not having children isn’t for everyone but at least when I’m in the ER at 5am on Christmas morning with someone else’s children, I’m not wishing I was home with my own.

    When I do get stuck working a shift where I’d rather be at home I always ask myself whose life I am having opportunity to touch and, even better, who will be touching my life with some wisdom and grace. Those of you who work minimum wage jobs on holidays, you have no idea how grateful I am that you’re there to pump my gas because I was standing in one place for 10 hours with a critically injured person or how much I appreciate your smile and good nature when I get a cup of tea at 3am after I’ve pulled 36 hours of being up because my replacement’s mother died.

    I hope that for those of you who ARE stuck working a job like waitstaff on Christmas day, you can find a way to realize that everyone who walks into your place of business has a story they’d like to share and they’re so glad you’re there to keep them from being lonely on such a special holiday.

    None of you have any idea how many lives you enrich by knowing their names at the gas station or what kind of coffee someone drinks or how they like their meats sliced in the deli. You make lives better every day and those who are ungrateful I hope learn to never take you for granted when the gas station is out of fuel, the grocery store is closed when you need a birthday cake or the internet goes out while you’re trying to talk to your husband in Iraq.

    I know that all of us–educated or not, childless or with a house full will always have to do something we don’t want to do when there is something else we’d rather be doing. It’s just part of life. But I hope that, after thinking about it, you realize there is going to be one person that day who touches your life and makes it better and you’ll do the same.

  58. avatar Shirley T says:

    LW2-can you say “Narcissist?” Margo gave excellent advice. My only question is why did you stay with this jerk so long? Kick him to the curb and don’t look back. Good luck sweetie!

  59. avatar A R says:

    Sadie, I thought we were having a conversation about a woman not having more kids than she could handle. My only point (which actually was rooted in agreeing with a previous poster) was that women ultimately have the final say-so as to how many babies they wish to produce (no matter what their male partner(s) wishes).

    Therefore, it’s not such a bad thing for women to consider a limit on how many children they feel they could handle. In other words, women aren’t just destined to have child after child—they have a choice.

    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      Ar – you & the other poster were trying to assign exclusive responsibility for reproduction to women. I’m not letting you.
      Men have complete control over how many children they produce no matter what the wily seductive man-trapper may desire, they can always c hoose to ignore her. It’s not a bad thing for men to limit the number of children they produce to what they can afford.

    • avatar Sadie BB says:

      Ar – here’s another helpful example. Can you detect what is wrong with the following completely true statement?

      Fat ugly boring guys should not have more children than they can afford.

  60. avatar Lym BO says:

    LW1: I’m not sure where some of these other folks worked but as an RN we worked 3 out of the 6 holidays. Now let’s clarify that. Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve are not holidays unless you are working the night (3rd) shift. Requests were made & time given off. It seems totally unfair to me that the holidays are not equally split. Your employer is sticking it to you because he know you have no other choice. Personally, if he doesn’t concede to your request I would call in sick . OR better yet since you intend to show up the next shift call in with a sick child.

    LW2: I would certainly ask to go to counseling. Something is eating at the old goat. He either hates, you, himself or his life overall. If this is a personality change then a doctor’s visit is in store. If he treats the kids this way I’m sure they will soon ask why you didn’t dump him sooner.

  61. avatar Morgan H says:

    To LW1, you’re a cook making minimum wage; I see dozens of such jobs posted on Craigslist every day. Quit and get a job cooking for a restaurant that is closed on the holidays.