The holidays look different for essential workers of a community. For Lawrence Fire Dept. firefighter Ryan Mack, his family’s Christmas Day celebrations work around his schedule.
“I’ve worked Christmas Day before, and it’s a mix of missing my family but enjoying the day with the guys at the firehouse,” Mack said. “It helps because the guys at the firehouse are like my second family. You’re with them 24 hours at a time, every third day. On Christmas, it’s still like celebrating, especially with making our own traditions like a potluck and cooking together.”
Mack’s family starts the Christmas celebration early in the morning to accommodate his schedule.
“For me, my wife and daughter, we get up super early and celebrate before I leave for the day,” said Mack. “Then my wife and daughter do the rest of the family stuff throughout the rest of the day.”
Mack “got lucky” as both he and his wife grew up in a family of firefighters and police officers.
“I grew up in a family of firefighters, as did my wife,” Mack said. “She understood that it’s just a way of life. But for others who are unfamiliar with the crazy schedule, it hurts a little.
“The hardest thing is not being able to be around my whole family on Christmas. But with young kids, like my daughter, it’s the hardest on them. The kids go and visit with their family, but they miss Dad or Mom.”