Fireworks explode during the lighting of the Mayor's Christmas Tree on Nov. 29 in Kansas City, Mo. The 100-foot-tall Mayor's Christmas Tree, one of the nation's tallest, is the centerpiece of the holiday celebration.
(Photo: Shane Keyser, AP)
Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year. And for anyone who works a Monday-Friday schedule, a Wednesday Christmas is a challenge.
When Christmas happens on any other day of the work week, you're either guaranteed a three-day weekend or "you're nestled up to a Monday or a Friday," justification enough to take an extra day off, says Sandy Adams, who runs traffic safety programs in Glendale, Ariz.
But when Christmas is "plunked in the middle of the week," she says, "it just feels uncomfortable trying to figure out what you're going to do."
For companies with end-of-year deadlines to meet, the problem with Christmas on Wednesday is Tuesday. Surveys by temporary staffing agency Accountemps show company executives consistently rank Tuesday as the day their employees are most productive.
But for the last two weeks of 2013, all bets are off.
"We're talking the day before Christmas," says Kimberly Stiener-Murphy, branch manager of Accountemps in Sacramento. "People aren't thinking about what they can accomplish at work. They're thinking, 'How can I get out of work?' "
Then, she says, it happens all over again "in literally less than a week" on New Year's Eve.
MORE: Presidents have mixed record on holiday time off
For schools and colleges, the Wednesday problem occurs not in December but in November, on the day before Thanksgiving.
"Teachers have had to learn that whatever they did on that Wednesday they have to do again because most kids weren't going to be there anyway," says Michael Redburn, executive director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators.
Whether President Obama will grant more than 2 million federal workers extra time off next Tuesday is uncertain, especially because many federal workers weren't at their desks for 16 days in October because of the government shutdown.
Regardless, "the precedent has not been good," says Ralph Smith, a retiree who blogs on federal workforce issues at FedSmith.com. "Wednesday is the worst day for Christmas as far as getting off an extra day."
Presidents Truman in 1946 and Eisenhower in 1957 granted half-days off on Christmas Eve when the holiday fell on Wednesday during their tenures in office. But six times between 1960 and 2000 no president, Democrat or Republican, formally excused workers from work on Dec. 24 before a Wednesday holiday.
Christmas came early for Adams, who works for the city of Glendale. In October, Glendale's city council approved a plan to close administrative offices from Monday through Friday of Christmas week, giving about 1,600 city employees five days of paid time off.
It's a one-time deal - a thank-you for having given up more than $8.5 million in wages in recent years because of salary freezes and furloughs, says Jim Brown, the city's head of human resources. He valued the extra time off at about $1.3 million.