Friday, September 2, 2011

A Little About Labor Day - the holiday weekend and so much more

Back in the olden days, just after dinosaurs roamed the earth and cavemen hunted their prey with clubs, it was the custom not to wear white after Labor Day.  My grandmother taught me that little bit of old-fashioned etiquette and among other things it meant no white shoes or purses once Labor Day passed.  White was a summer fashion shade in her youthful eras and even when times changed, her notions about some things didn’t.   I’m not prone to wearing much white and the last pair of white shoes I bought was for my wedding but the idea lingers as summer fades into history.

 Labor Day began as an observance designed to honor and appreciate the workers of our great nation back in 1882.  Over the decades and now more than a century later, most Americans think of Labor Day as little more than the last chance to enjoy summer.  It’s become a three day celebration of summer with picnics, barbecues, family reunions, and family fun.  A lot of folks take to the lake that long weekend or make a trip to some favorite destination before settling down into the slower routines of fall.

 While I enjoy taking a break to have a little fun as much as anyone that happens less and less as my career ramps into a higher gear and moves into levels I’ve never reached before.  While I may slow down to throw something on the grill or even make a drive down to the lake, I’ll spend a good portion of the long holiday weekend at work with my words.  I don’t know if the organizers of that very first Labor Day celebration who wanted something to celebrate “the workingman” would consider an author part of the labor force but I spend longer, often harder hours than I have put into any other occupation I’ve claimed so I hope that they would.

 What I hope most of all is that somewhere between the backyard cookouts, the last run to the amusement park or down to the river, as the last bits of summer fun are squeezed out of these upcoming three days, that a few of my fellow Americans remember just why the holiday began and what it marks.

 As many people play and enjoy their leisure moments, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to take time to remember all the working folks who will also be at their labors over the weekend.  Our area law enforcement officers will be on the job to keep the rest of us safe.  Medical personnel will be at work to keep us well.  Restaurant crews large and small, local places and national chains will be at their posts, serving us as we enjoy our long holiday weekend.   Retail clerks will wait on customers and help us find the items that we need.  Fire departments and other emergency personnel will work.  Media folks will be spinning records, covering the news, anchoring the evening news, predicting the weather, so many other occupations will be in full time swing  If I tried to list them all, I’d run out of space long before I could reach the end of the column.


 Summer is coming to a close and the routines will shift for us all.   After a hot summer with record breaking temperatures, extreme weather including the Joplin tornado, and many dry days, I look forward to the cooler highs of autumn.  Fall is my favorite season so I anticipate the changing colors and the shift into that often glorious time of year.   At the same time I’m no fan of winter and I hope that whoever controls the weather might take pity and send us a mild winter this year.
 Until then, enjoy the three day long holiday that celebrates the end of summer and remember that the observance began as a day to honor working folks everywhere.
 

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