"I'm Beginning to Think a Lot 'Bout Christmas . . ."

Thanksgiving is just two days away, but I’m already starting to think about Christmas – and it’s not because I intend to join the Black Friday madness and hit the Mall of America after having my fill of turkey and dressing.

No, I’m looking at my calendar with thoughts of what I might do during my vacation the week after Christmas, and I’d like a little extra time off. I bet you would, too.

So what do you think about the idea of having two extra days off at Christmas this year – on the university?

I think it’s a splendid idea, and I can’t think of a better time of year to announce it as we prepare to gather with family and friends to carry on a Thanksgiving tradition established in Plymouth Colony in 1621, formalized by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 and made an official holiday by Congress in 1941.

I also can’t think of a better time of year than late December to take a few days off and, again with family and friends, celebrate the Advent season and the birth of Jesus Christ.

So here is how this will work:

Christmas falls on a Sunday, meaning that our paid holidays are Saturday (Christmas Eve) and Sunday, followed by two more paid holidays on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (also Saturday and Sunday). If we roll those four holidays into the week between Christmas and New Year’s, that leaves one day – Wednesday, Dec. 28 – to work.

Do you honestly think anybody will want to work that one day? I certainly won’t, so that will be extra holiday No. 1. Then, knowing that many people will be hitting the road a little early for Christmas, we will throw in extra holiday No. 2 on Friday, Dec. 23.

Add them all up and we’ll be off 10 days in a row – Dec. 23 through Jan. 1 – before returning to work on Monday, Jan. 2.

Some employees, including certain Public Safety officers, Physical Plant workers, IRT server administrators, Food Service workers, Development staff members and athletic coaches, may need to work during Christmas week because their services are necessary on campus. If you are uncertain whether your services are required during this period, please contact your manager.

Employees who are not required to work from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1 will be paid for that time period in accordance with our holiday pay policy. Employees who are required to work during the Christmas holidays will be compensated as follows:

  • Employees who are represented by a union will be paid according to the terms of their collective bargaining agreement.
  • Non-exempt (hourly) employees who are not represented by a union will receive pay for hours actually worked on the holiday in addition to their regular pay for all scheduled work hours that day.
  • Exempt (salaried) employees will receive a floating holiday for each holiday worked as arranged with their manager. The floating holidays must be used by the end of the fiscal year (June 30).

Department heads must notify Human Resources by Dec. 9 if they have employees who must work during the Christmas holidays.

During the long holiday break, we will turn down the thermostats in most of our buildings to conserve energy and save a few dollars. Anyone who has to work during Christmas Week may want to wear an extra sweater!

I know Christmas seems a long way off, but as retailers keep reminding us, it’s just around the corner. Let me take advantage of this occasion to wish you an early – and a very – Merry Christmas!

And enjoy your Thanksgiving, too. We have much to be grateful for this year.