For far too many years of my life, I’ve spent the holiday season alone. After a brutal breakup, I’ll be doing so again this year. As one of them will once again serve as my Christmas Day savior, I thought it only fitting to acknowledge the dive bars that are open on Christmas Day.
If you’re privileged enough to have always had a place to go, people to love you, and a psyche that always permitted you to be comfortable in the traditional holiday situations, you may have not even considered this magical, life-saving service.
You see, while most civilized businesses across the country are closed on major holidays like Christmas, there is sometimes the odd local dive bar that commits to remaining open 365 days a year. I know one bar owner who pours the daytime shift at his bar every single day himself. It’s a level of commitment that I know his patrons truly appreciate and respect.
While the longevity and endurance are impressive, it is actually the humanitarian element of it that humbles me. Not only do these disregarded places offer some company during the loneliest times of year for the lost, displaced, and forgotten, but they often also try to make it special.
Some provide turkey dinners free of charge on Thanksgiving. Those same ones might also ensure there’s spiral-cut ham on hand on Christmas Day. The smells of these dishes and those eager to try them signal it’s not just another day at the bar.
As someone who volunteers at a homeless shelter, I can appreciate the impact of satisfying basic needs like food and shelter for those who don’t have an adequate supply. At certain times of year, though, those basic elements are not the only outreach some folks require. Sometimes it’s more about interaction and contact on one’s own terms.
The bar that I’ll be visiting on Christmas this year is steeped in reality and tragedy. The son of the owners (who had been a fixture at the bar) was killed in a car crash. He is pictured on a mural on the wall, surrounded by friends. One of those friends is…