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Clocked in on Christmas

Jesse Stewart, manager of Red Wing Cinema 8, worked the concession counter for a Plum City school group visiting the theatre Friday, Dec. 22. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 3
Brooke Foster, left, and Scott Hanson help guests at the front desk of the St. James Hotel. Two of the hotel's restaurants will be open on Christmas Day. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Even after a big Christmas meal, the smell of buttery popcorn is hard for movie theatre customers to resist. Samantha Bengs / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 3

In the season of holiday celebrations and family gatherings, Christmas can create obligatory contradictions for some.

Take Jonathan Du Bois for example. A gas technician for Xcel Energy, Du Bois will be on call Christmas Day.

"If any calls come in relating to natural gas, I'll be heading out," he said.

Work schedules for gas technicians are made far in advance, Du Bois said, allowing for ample planning time. He has, however, had to stay home from family holiday vacations in the past. The forecasted frigid Christmas Day temperatures leave Du Bois to believe he will be busy.

"In that cold, people will likely have everything running in the house. A new nose comes inside and might find an odd smell and call it in," he said.

Room and board

The St. James Hotel will have more than a dozen staff members on duty Christmas Day. While Jimmy's Pub and Clara's coffee shop will close, the Veranda and Port restaurants will be open. Scott Hanson, rooms manager for the hotel, said the hotel is usually around 30 percent occupancy during the holidays.

"A number of times, I've had people come to the front desk, we'll help them out, then they'll pause and say 'thank you' for working on Thanksgiving or Christmas," Hanson said.

Those extra sentiments have stuck with Hanson. He said whenever he visits a gas station or grocery store on a holiday, he now thanks employees for working when most people are not.

Hold the popcorn, or not

Leaving the house to catch a new movie at the theatre is a tradition for many families.

Jesse Stewart, manager of Red Wing Cinema 8, said his eyes were opened to this holiday habit when he began working at the theatre eight years ago.

"It's a big tradition for a lot of folks," Stewart said. "People are very grateful and thank us for being open so they can come out for a movie."

Red Wing Cinema 8 will open at 11:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, and remain open until the 9 p.m. showings. "Father Figures," "Pitch Perfect 3," "Downsizing," "The Greatest Showman," "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," "Ferdinand" and two screens of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" will be playing.

Stewart said many Christmas Day movie-goers try to forego a snack after big meals, but the popcorn aroma is hard to deny.

"It's pretty common that people will come back for popcorn, or say that is smells too good to pass up," he said.

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