Dec. 25 is business as usual for some

Myriam Calderon said she didn't mind working the counter at a panda Express restaurant in Modesto on Christmas Day.
Myriam Calderon said she didn't mind working the counter at a panda Express restaurant in Modesto on Christmas Day. Modesto Bee

Myriam Calderon spent Christmas Day dishing up chow mein at a fast food restaurant, missing her family in Mexico.

Calderon, 28, of Modesto is among the many people who kept a handful of businesses running in the Northern San Joaquin Valley on Tuesday while most people were at home with family. Those seeking a caffeine fix, garlic chicken, pancakes at 3 p.m. or a last-minute gift of flowers could find all of those things Tuesday in Modesto.

Working Christmas Day is a growing trend is some places. U.S. figures were unavailable, but a London-based Trade Union Congress study indicates the number of people working on Dec. 25 in the United Kingdom has more than doubled in the past six years.

Many of those working Christmas Day said they celebrate the holiday but don't mind putting in a few hours at work. Women are most likely to do it, according to the study, released this month.

Calderon said she was helping co-workers with children spend the day together and hoped someone would do the same for her when she's a mom.

"If I had kids, I wouldn't work," she said.

Others were attracted to the holiday pay.

David Muños, 20, of Salida volunteered to work.

"I need the money and I get time-and-a-half today," he said while pouring drinks at the Starbucks at Floyd and Roselle avenues.

Todd Turner, 19, of Modesto had the same thought, he said between taking orders at the only other Starbucks open Tuesday in Modesto, at Briggsmore Avenue and Prescott Road.

"My Christmas kind of sucks," he said, glancing at a line of 14 people that snaked from the register to the door. "But I'm doing something great for New Year's."

Working one holiday to get another off is common among those who work at businesses open every day of the year.

Sgt. Ray Coyle spent Thanksgiving with his family and Christmas orchestrating Modesto police emergency responses.

"Obviously, we have to be out there," he said. "My family doesn't have a problem with it. Since I was a kid, my family has celebrated before or after Christmas because it was more convenient."

But not everyone's family is as flexible as the Coyles.

"My family hates it. So I feel really bad about working (Christmas Day). But this is how I afford the gifts they just got," said gas station attendant Sarah Lloyd, 24, of Modesto.

Alessandro Perufo, 35, of Dublin received a similar reaction when he told his family he would be selling flowers Christmas Day. Perufo was not working for himself; he was raising money for a Bay Area church.

"I don't mind, but my wife got mad at me," he said. Perufo said Christmas is about giving and that he was giving what he could -- time.

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or ehightower@modbee.com.