The holidays have looked very different this year. Many people are unable to travel to see their families & vice-versa out of concern for the pandemic our world is currently facing. Instead of gathering around a dinner table together, we are gathering around computer screens with our makeshift holiday feasts to virtually experience the presence of our families.
I have rarely had the holidays off since my foray into the field of hospitality. It has almost become ubiquitous for me to miss out on family gatherings during the holiday season because I'm required to work. I'm the one having to jump on a ZOOM call to chat with my loved ones or be relegated to a brief phone call before running into work. Hotels & restaurants are operations that focus on being a gathering place for people during the holidays, so it can result in a high revenue day despite the "holiday lull". As such, leaders of those operations are expected to be present for some capacity of that day. There are many sacrifices that industry professionals make for their careers. Being absent during Christmas & Thanksgiving is unfortunately one of those many sacrifices. Does it hurt sometimes? Yes. Do I usually justify it with that holiday bonus? ABSOLUTELY! But even I can admit that being lonely, especially on my favorite holiday, Christmas, is never the easiest pill to swallow. I have to spend that special day with the uniquely-crazy restaurant or hotel guests, delegate deep cleaning assignments to my staff, and collaborate with my fellow leaders to ensure we are creating amazing experiences for those around us.
For many of us industry professionals, being away from our family during the holidays is nothing new. Again, it's a sacrifice we come prepared to make every year. But I will admit that things feel a little different, more isolated this time around with COVID in the mix. My heart breaks every time I have bring my parents the bad news of "I'm not coming home this year due to this obligation at work or some event I'm working on". At least this year I can blame the pandemic for my inability to travel to be with them and not hold a small grudge against the career I chose for myself.
I say all this to let those of you who are new to not being able share the magical energy of the holidays with your family this: If I can get through it, so can you. Relish the time you have with them this holiday season even if it is limited to that dreadful 2-hour window on ZOOM. For those of you in industries outside of hospitality, hotel/tourism, or restaurants, I know this sucks and requires some adjustment. This year every professional was impacted in some way, shape or form. We will feel it the most tomorrow on Christmas Day. Remember that feeling that so many of us in the service industry have felt far too often. It is my hope that this year reminds people to show extra empathy the next time your dining out for a holiday or staying in a luxury hotel to hang out with your family.
When I say Merry Christmas this year, it will be with a more compassion than ever before------because now your holidays look like ours.