As Labor Day approaches, I am often asked the question, “What does Labor Day mean to you?” Actually, I have never been asked that question but if I was, it would mean that I was being interviewed by some poor sap from the local TV station who had nothing better prepared to ask. But now that I ponder that very question, I have some answers in case anyone ever asks me.
I would answer that question by saying, “Hey, it’s a day off.” In other words, Labor Day doesn’t mean much to me as a holiday.
Memorial Day celebrates our war dead, July 4th celebrates our independence, and Thanksgiving celebrates the first time we took advantage of the Native American’s hospitality. But Labor Day represents work so we celebrate it by not working. It’s truly a puzzling holiday designed by the government.
As a kid, Labor Day was the least favorite of the holidays because it meant that the next day we had to go to school. Labor Day was not a day off for kids, it was the last day of freedom before they pulled the switch.
As I got older and wanted to hang with my friends one more time before I saw them the next day in school, my dad explained the real meaning of Labor Day. He said that it was set aside so that sons could help their fathers do labor around the house. He was very convincing and we spent every Labor Day painting, sanding, washing, or fixing something. When I asked him why he was working me so hard my dad replied, “Because school starts tomorrow and I wanted you to see what it was like without an education.” A pearl of wisdom that stuck with me.
Fortunately I listened to dad’s advice and consequently never really had a job that consisted of honest labor. I went from selling insurance to writing advertising copy, to telling jokes, none of which required heavy lifting. In my next career, I think I’ll be a pundit.
The saddest thing about Labor Day is that it marked the end of summer. City swimming pools would be closed tomorrow and Sears is already selling winter clothes. It was all too brief and some of the days it rained, but summer was a darn nice season and it’s a shame to see it go.
As soon as summer is over, the next thing to go is Daylight Savings Time. By mid-September, it gets dark by 6 PM and everything goes downhill from there. The next thing you know, the leaves will turn color and it will be Halloween. I miss summer already and it’s not even over yet.
I don’t know if you have any family traditions or memories about Labor Day, but if you don’t, use this year as an opportunity to make some. Heck, there’s nothing else to do today.