by Caroline Vandergriff | CBS 11

ARLINGTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Many first responders have to work on Christmas Day to protect and serve the community, but one deserving police officer in Arlington got the day off this year after winning a unique holiday contest.

Every year, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson selects an employee to take off on Christmas, and he works in their place.

It’s a way of saying “thank you” for a job well done.

This Christmas, Officer William Bill, who has been with the department for 14 years, got to stay home with his wife and kids on the holiday.

Arlington Police Officer William Bill

“I’ve missed a lot of events over the years, working as a police officer,” he said. “From basketball games to choir events to Christmases, Thanksgivings, Fourth of July’s.”

Arlington Police Officer William Bill (center) and family on Christmas Day. (Caroline Vandergriff – CBS 11)

Officer Bill said he was grateful for the chance to watch his kids open presents Wednesday morning.

“I don’t remember the last Christmas I had with him until now,” said his daughter Taylor.

The family spent the rest of the day playing board games and enjoying the time together.

“It’s just a blessing to have him here,” said Caleb, Bill’s son. “Normally, he’s usually working. When I wake up for Christmas, most people will have their dad there, but duty calls.”

Meantime, Chief Johnson spent Christmas patrolling the streets in Bill’s place. He choose to work his shift to show his appreciation for all the things he’s done to make Arlington better this year.

“No matter who you are or what you do or where you live, you can give back,” said Chief Johnson. “This is an opportunity for my family to give back to the officers.”

It’s a gift you can’t buy online or in a store.

Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson and Officer William Bill (courtesy: Arlington PD)

“That’s the gift of time, and time with the family,” said Officer Bill. “I feel very lucky and touched, and it only makes me want to go out there and work harder tomorrow to show him that I deserved to be off today.”