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Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Nia Harden: Working on a holiday

Posted November 23, 2021 6:00 a.m. EST

Nia Harden shares photos of her family's holiday meal

— For many people, working on a holiday is nothing new. According to the Heartland Monitor Poll, up to a quarter of workers in the U.S. will work on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Day.

This made me think about my mother, Mondre Watson. Mondre has nine children. She works for a major airline carrier and has been required to work major holidays for the last 24-years. Even during the pandemic she worked Thanksgiving day.

As a child, I never realized all the hard work my mother put into making holidays like Thanksgiving special. Oftentimes she was forced to work the evening and night shifts, so she would wake up early on Thanksgiving day, go to the grocery store, come back home and race to the kitchen.

Nia Harden's mom, Mondre Watson

“You have to juggle the priorities trying to find sleep in between. While the meal is cooking, you’re getting other tasks done because you still have to get ready for work and then come home and try to get your sleep just to do it all over again the next day,” Mondre says.

My mom always made things we liked, even if it wasn’t the traditional side dish. Looking back, I can’t imagine how difficult it was to accommodate so many children. Our meals were served either early in the morning or very early in the afternoon. While speaking to my mother about this article, I asked her why she made holiday meals when she had to work the same day.

“Tradition and not robbing your children of the tradition and the holiday experience. As kids get older, this is something they will carry with them and do with their family. So if they don’t see the example, they won’t know how to carry out that tradition.”

It all made sense! I now have my own family and I work at least one major holiday. Still, it’s important for me to give my children that same tradition my mother gave to me. I now do the same thing my mother did. I go grocery shopping ahead of time, spend the night prepping food, and wake up early to cook before I head to work for the day.

While it’s hard being away from your family on a major holiday, I find joy in knowing my mother taught me how to never forget about making priorities, a priority, even when work calls.

My mother says tradition looks different for everyone. It doesn’t have to be a big meal, it’s about finding some way to share it with the ones you love.