Labor Day? Already? You got to be kidding. How the hell did that happen? Eight months of the year have expired? 2017 is two-thirds over? That is so frightening because any day now radio stations are going to switch to wall-to-wall Christmas music.
As holidays go, the first Monday of September gets no respect. It’s that last lonely pepperoncino on the festival deli tray. The metal folding chair next to the furnace that only gets pulled out when company invites company. The tomato plant in the back row closest to the fence those darn gophers found so tasty.
Part of the problem is the name: Labor Day. Smacks of major difficulties. Especially to mothers who have experienced birth. Comes really close to glorifying chores. A stress proponent. Futile attempt to promote drudgery. Might as well call it Dentist’s Drill Day.
We need to rename it The Extra Special Day Off Day or Bonus Day. How about Cake Day. Who doesn’t like cake? Anything to better highlight its unique status as the one day we get to take off to honor that small segment of society that actually works for a living. You know, regular humans. You and me. OK, mostly you.
Although it’s provided 123 years of succor to we masses, the official working man’s holiday encourages a decidedly incognito sort of partying. No ugly bird to burn, a total lack of dead vegetation to string lights around and nary a signature drink to quaff while watching the fabulous line-up of Labor Day themed movies on basic cable.
The beauty is, befitting its egalitarian nature, everybody is free to participate in Labor Day. Not just people who work for a living, but each and every American, including lawyers, investment bankers, politicians and newspaper editors. Hah. That was a joke.
Because of its particular calendar placement as a holiday bridge halfway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, Labor Day has also become a seasonal signal flag. The solstice is dead. Long live the autumnal equinox. Take down the back-to-school banners and fill the shelves with Halloween candy.
Time to roll up the garden hose and roll out the snow blower. Bury the flip-flops and exhume the ski boots. Pumpkin spice once again rises while watermelon sinks slowly in the west. The lazy, hazy, dazy days of summer are over and every evening is once again a school night.
And never forget that Labor Day honors the living, not the dead. Our workforce. A single day off so the real nine-to-five heroes that keep this country humming can relax before squaring their shoulders and getting back to the job of carving out a better future. Raising 2.3 kids, paying off a mortgage with enough left over to meet the monthly cable bill, with at least one premium channel thrown in.
So whether you flip burgers or beach houses, run a stockroom full of board length or a lengthy boardroom full of stockholders, enjoy your day off. You deserve it. Gather family and friends and wave a fond farewell to all that excess sunshine and bid hello to the calming of the light. No need to bring gifts, although flowers and wine never go out of style. Make it a six-pack. And while you’re at it, some cake.
Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed columnist, comic and former sod farmer in New Berlin, Wisconsin. For a calendar of personal appearances, including his new one-man show, “Durst Case Scenario,” please visit willdurst.com.