by Julie Ann Madden
When people see him at Casey’s General Store on Christmas Day, they often remark, “You’ve got to work on Christmas, don’t you?”
“And it’s my birthday, too,” responds Akron Police Chief Kimm Nielsen. “Makes it double bad, doesn’t it?”
Dec. 25, 1955 at about 7 p.m., he was born.
Nielsen was 7 or 8 years old when he realized he always received more presents than his four siblings and understood why.
That was the year he received a pair of earmuffs and a harmonica.
“Every once in a while, we’ll watch the video of me that Christmas,” said Nielsen. “I look like a real nerd in my pajamas with my earmuffs on, playing my harmonica.”
His early Christmases also included birthday cake but often there had been too many other treats and food to really enjoy it. Therefore, his family started celebrating his birthday before or after the holiday.
When Nielsen was in high school, his birthday celebrations included having friends over and having cake and ice cream. But since he turned 18, which was the legal drinking age back then, he hasn’t had any birthday parties.
“I never was much of a drinker,” said Nielsen, adding after he became an adult, presents weren’t necessary either as he bought what he wanted when he wanted because he had a job and could do so.
“My birthday is Christmas, and that’s just another day,” said Nielsen.
And for nearly four decades, Nielsen has worked on his birthday.
“I usually let someone else have it off,” said Nielsen, who has been employed with the Akron Police Department since 1993. “I take Christmas Eve off so the other officer can have Christmas Day.”
“It’s the same with Thanksgiving,” he said. “I usually work the holidays.”
It’s something he’s been doing since he began his career in law enforcement. In 1974 – 1976, he worked at the Union County Sheriff’s Office during the holidays while he attended college. Then he owned and operated his own detective agency and worked part-time for North Sioux City and Merrill police departments on the holidays.
“I think a lot of it’s being in law enforcement,” said Nielsen. “Weekends, holidays don’t mean anything different than any other day except holidays will be busier.”
“There is more traffic, more family members together and more alcohol,” he explained. “A lot of families get together for the holidays but don’t get together otherwise. They start arguing.”
“We get a tremendous amount of child custody calls (on holidays),” said Nielsen, explaining one parent will call and say the other parent hasn’t returned the child at the proper time.
With most of his own family serving in law enforcement, they get together Christmas Eve.
“Whoever makes it, does and whoever can’t, doesn’t,” said Nielsen. “There’s no hard feelings. (It’s just part of our jobs).”
His wife, Sharon, makes and serves dinner Christmas Day and relatives come over then, too.
Working Christmas isn’t so bad though.
Local Akron resident, Suzi Rozell, makes Thanksgiving and Christmas meals for him and brings it to him while he’s on duty.
“She’ll bring turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes — everything you can think of,” said Nielsen, adding there is no birthday cake but plenty of pumpkin pie, which is one of his favorites.
And Nielsen tells people, “I was born on Christmas and if I die on Good Friday and you see me on that Sunday, you’ll know who you’ve been dealing with.”