There was a time when the major holidays, those times of the year when we relished the chance to spend quality time with family, were sacred and protected.  These special days: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day were set aside as times to be with those we love – regardless of a person’s career obligations.  These were the days when our home kitchens were filled with mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, children and even grandchildren.  We cooked together, laughed, reminisced, raised our glasses, ate way too much, and gave thanks for all that we had.  We all looked forward to this tradition and hailed these days as our most treasured of the year.

Some traditions change, they evolve for various reasons; they remain, but they are different. Over time the challenges and yes – stress of the holiday gathering led many to relax and let someone else deal with the cooking and the details.  Those days in restaurants that were once recognized as a time to close and let traditions thrive are now some of the busiest business days of the year.  It made perfect business sense to take advantage of this opportunity to boost a restaurants’ bottom line and fill a need expressed by restaurant guests.  Most of these guests view this as an essential service and those operations that still choose to close and allow their employees to enjoy family are viewed as somehow negligent. “Why aren’t they open?  Are they crazy to ignore this valuable business?”

This is not a complaint; it is the reality of the day and has been now for a few decades.  What is worth stating, however, is the folks with whom I have worked and others whose business has changed in a similar fashion are working on those days to help others enjoy their day.  Restaurants will be full and service staff will put on a smile and do their best to make your holiday special.  Cooks will be standing in front of stoves throwing off their intense heat, arriving early in the morning and staying late at night to prepare those meals that once took place in your home with a kitchen filled with family members. Managers will do their best to keep morale up while the families of those workers are home without one of their sons, daughters, mothers, or fathers present.  They will celebrate on another day – a way to compensate for the absence.  But it won’t be the same.  They all sacrifice for the business of hospitality.

So, what can the average person do?  Be kind.  Thank the person serving your family meal, write a positive comment card recognizing the quality of your meal, leave a generous tip, peak in the kitchen and say thanks, write a great Trip Advisor comment, take a minute a day or so after your meal to write a note to the staff of the restaurant saying how much their work and hospitality meant to you and your family – it will cost you 60 cents for a stamp – the impact when shared with the staff of that restaurant will be priceless.  If service is a little slow on Christmas eve or day in that totally full restaurant – take a deep breath, relax, and smile.  Only kind words please – think about those people who are trying to do their best while struggling with what they are missing at home.

Sure, those of us who are in the hospitality business signed up for this and some might say – deal with it.  Got it, we do try and find satisfaction in celebrating with our team, but it’s not the same.  We soldier through and sometimes even wear a badge of honor as a service provider, but it is still difficult. So, be kind, be grateful, say thank you and please, and relish the opportunity that you have to be with your family and enjoy a great meal.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and raise a glass to 2022 and the new year to come.


Harvest America Ventures, LLC

Restaurant Consulting  BLOG

(Over 800 articles about the business and people of food)

CAFÉ Talks Podcast

More than 50 interviews with the most influential people in food