A Christmas surprise

After decades covering the federal beat some patterns become evident. The weeks before Christmas are always the same — the media is flooded with questions from employees and local merchants who want to know if feds are going to get time off, or a bonus holiday, on the day before or after Christmas.

This is especially if Dec. 25 falls on a Monday, Friday or over the weekend. There is seemingly endless speculation whether the White House will grant most nonpostal workers half a day, or a full day off, the day before or after Christmas. Some people start asking months before the 25th.

Those who follow the civil service check back records to see which presidents grant people time off on the 25th. Most have been generous but the speculation runs for months.

Except this year.


For the first time I can remember nobody, but nobody, called, emailed or inquired about extra Christmas leave. Maybe they were still stunned that President Donald Trump last year gave feds the whole day off on Monday, Dec. 24th. There was bipartisan precedent for it, but still it surprised some people.

The White House made it official late Tuesday saying, “The heads of executive departments and agencies may determine that certain offices and installations of their organizations, or parts thereof, must remain open and that certain employees must report for duty on Dec. 24, 2019, for reasons of national security, defense, or other public need.”

What that means is that most nonpostal federal civil servants will get the extra time off. They will technically be excused four hours early. In some cases bosses with the Christmas spirit may stretch that, unofficially, as many have done in the past. It should make for an interesting afternoon rush hour in many cities where the government has a lot of workers, and Christmas customers.

This year, maybe because of the shutdown or maybe because of tension between the White House and career employees at the State Department, FBI, CIA, Interior Department and other places nobody even bothered asking. At least I didn’t, which is probably a good thing because I didn’t know, didn’t have a clue and, if I had to bet, would have bet there wouldn’t be any extra time off. Sometimes it’Donald s nice to be wrong.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

According to linguist Walt Wolfram, North Carolina is the most linguistically diverse state in the union. In general, Southern states experience a higher rate of regional dialects but geographic features such as mountains, a plateau and coastal islands create isolated pockets where regionalisms have flourished. In addition, white, black, Latinx and Native American residents of the state bring their own linguistic traditions to the mix.

Source: Atlas Obscura