Around the Bluhmin’ Town
Are you feeling rested? Just wondering how your official “Day of Rest”…otherwise called Labor Day tuned out. I love that holiday! Originated over one hundred years ago, it is one of the few national holidays that was created for no man, war, or religion, but for the common working stiff – you and me. It marks the end of summer, one more chance to hop in the car and get out of town for three days, or simply lounge around in the notion that we work hard and deserve an extra day off.
My Labor Day sort of went like this: I think I will do nothing. I will plan on goofing off and do absolutely no chores, no cooking, and make no calls. Maybe stay in PJs all day and eats snacks, reading books. But then I wake up from my dream-state and realize there are horses to feed, stalls to rake, birds to feed, coffee to make, meals to prepare, things to do…and my “day of rest” turns out like all others. Busy and running around. And I think I am not alone. Americans cannot sit still!
My girlfriend, Liz, says they always have a big family barbecue on Labor Day and her husband, Joe, does the grilling. Which usually means that Liz makes the side dishes, the salad, the dessert, sets the table, makes the drinks, does the clean-up, and then Joe gets the credit for “making dinner.” Oh, and Joe wears one of those (silly) chef hats and aprons for his “big day” of barbecuing ribs while he stands outside drinking a beer and having a grand time. Liz says she is sick of Labor Day because she does all the laboring.
Maybe Labor Day is an American holiday that somehow celebrates the very thing that Americans do best. We work hard! Other countries take longer vacations, have shorter work weeks, and have all sorts of clever “rules” so the employees are not “over-worked.” Germany has just invoked a law that an employer cannot contact an employee about a job-related issue after 6 p.m. in the evenings and never on weekends. I am not making this up! Some countries pamper their workers! Very un-American.
Labor Day was intended to be a day of rest (with pay) for people who were working long hours, with little recognition, earning measly wages, and doing back-breaking jobs. Even that funny television show called “World’s Dirtiest Jobs” cannot quite describe working conditions in America a century ago. Labor Day was created to honor “the common man” whose hard labor helped dig ditches, build bridges, roads, and buildings. In other words, these workers were honored for creating our infrastructure.
Many people think that Labor Day has lost its meaning. It has become another shallow three-day weekend and an excuse for more retail sales. Over the years, Labor Day has been about anything but labor, and to most it represents the end of summer, start of school, beginning of football, and one last barbecue. The holiday has evolved over the years. At one point in time, Labor Day was celebrated with huge parades of working people, marching around town squares, holding up banners that proudly displayed their trade.
Labor Day also signified the absolute cut-off for wearing white shoes or pants. Of course, fashion has changed and now it doesn’t matter. Come to think of it, I don’t see many folks wearing white shoes, unless they are tennis shoes. And of course Labor Day ushers in Fall, with the promise of cooler days, longer nights, less weeds to cut, and fewer dust storms!
One man emailed me to say that after a long, hot summer, he relishes Labor Day because then his wife will start cooking again. He claims she “refuses” to turn on the stove unless the temperatures are below 80 degrees (in Phoenix that might be December). And one lady emailed me to state that Labor Day is her favorite holiday because everyone in her family goes camping and she is left alone in “blissful solitude” for a few days. Whatever the reason, we like Labor Day.
Hope your “celebration” of your years of work and labor was completely relaxing. And even though Labor Day has passed, go ahead and wear white, turn off the phone, go camping (or stay home}, occasionally dare to do nothing, and be sure to put on your chef’s hat (or maybe not). But please don’t think about all the hours you have toiled in your life since it could be upsetting. Dear Readers, hopefully you can enjoy the “fruits of your labors” all year long!
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.