When you have to work on a holiday

a female factory worker working on a plane rudder

As an immigrant in Miami, I can feel the cultural and political diversity.

There are different people with different ideas, culture, immigrant experiences, echoes of the past. Different persons have diverse philosophies about life. In particular, the way we do importance to the Holidays may be different from one culture to another one. However, for almost all of us, the one thing we want during our own holidays is to spend time with our families and not work on a holiday. 

For example, during holidays in Cuba, you get time off to spend with your families. I would never work on a holiday. In America, we do not have the time off to spend with our family during our traditional holidays.

When you are an immigrant, you often have to work on a holiday, because your traditional holidays are not the same as American ones.

Even for those of us who do celebrate the same holidays or choose to try to integrate and celebrate American holidays, we may not get time off work. Sometimes, as new employees, we do not even get permission to take an hour off of work for necessities like appointments. Employees are often not entitled to receive paid vacation time. Some of us have to hold two or three jobs.

Even if a waitress is a decent position, it was not the profession that I studied for. I was a lawyer in Cuba but the political system there forced me to come to the United States. So I feel very sad when I work work on a holiday as a waitress during one of my most important holidays.

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But I made it through, even though it was hard to work on a holiday. What I will suggest to newcomers is to remain calm and not get discouraged, because otherwise the stress and anxiety will overtake you. Instead, try to look at the big picture: the time will come when you will able to spend your holidays with your family.

But first you have to do your “to do list.” For example: learn English, obtain a degree, or some technical school certificate that will allow you to get a better position, a better job, a better life and finally . . . vacation time will come.

Opinions expressed and advice given in USAHello’s Voices and Hello blogs are the writers’ own. USAHello offers impartial information and online courses to help newcomers in the USA.