Shipping did not stop on the Great Lakes during Christmas. Many people must work on Christmas from emergency responders to retail workers that have to work in grocery or convenience stores over the holiday. The same goes for crews of Great Lakes freighters that load and unload cargo during the Christmas season and in particular Christmas Day. Ore and bulk freighters carry raw materials needed by power plants, factories, and other things. That means ship crews need to work over the holidays so that these raw materials get delivered. Such was the case of the Mesabi Miner which departed from Duluth on Christmas Day.
Of course the crews do celebrate Christmas aboard ship. Most ships these days have comfortable crew areas where they can get fed and relax. So no doubt they had Christmas decorations up, music playing, and of course some Christmas food as well. And when they get home (and the shipping season generally ends at the end of December and early January) they will probably have celebrations when they get home once their ship is laid up for the season (until late March or early April depending on the weather) .
We should never forget those who do provide essential services during the Christmas season. They work in the background to get things done that benefit us all.