Labor Day: we consider it a signal, even a hallmark of summer’s slow shuttering, and as a bonus 8 (or 10 or 12) hours free of our daily, tiresome as well as appreciated jobs. Lake cottages and cabins are closed as high season winds down for several months–this was a big event where I grew up in Michigan. Otherwise, it’s a time to do little to nothing except eat and enjoy our gatherings of friends and family–or delve into and hang on awhile to a last summery, extended week-end holiday. The last heat of intense sunshine may yet linger and if so, many may head to the water for frolicing and picnics for feasting. School, after all, gets back to business in many parts of the country following this federal holiday.
Labor Day, however, is one significant story in the annals of American history. It goes back to the abysmal conditions of workers in the late 1800s: often children at work alongside adults, unsafe environments, unbearable long shifts, pay that barely could feed, house and clothe a family, if that. And from such critical situations arose our first labor unions, and demands for clear and marked alterations, with new laws put in place to impact laborers’ lives. For humane treatment and fairness was overdue within much of industry’s workings. Change did not come without a cost, however, and before things were much improved there were many more protests that turned violent as tens of thousands of workers rallied and took to the streets.
But improvements did occur in time. The labor movement and unions became more effective in protecting workers and wielded more power. Employees, at last, had greater rights and gradually better lots in life. Congress passed an act in 1894 making the first Monday of September as “Labor Day” for all workers. A day to take time off and relax for once. To celebrate the value of their relentlessly hard work.
So Labor Day is an historic national holiday as well as an old American tradition. I hope my countrymen and countrywomen are finding a breath of fresh air to take in, free hours all to themselves and/or with whomever matters. And my husband will get a break from his toil at a demanding job–just doing a bunch of nothing that brings monetary reward. No, just down time, a slacker. That means I’ll also have little to no engagement in writing (though maybe this counts? –and who knows what can enter the dreaming writer’s mind)–just kickin’ back. Taking another one of the hikes we love. Grilling, of course. Before we know it, the Northwest rains will creep up on us to hang out for the next 6 months!
Be safe–watch that drinking and driving. It leads to precarious circumstances and worse. I hope to see you on Wednesday with another story of one sort or another!
P.S. A couple years ago I apparently had a blast estate sale shopping!
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