7 Easy Ways to Celebrate Labor Day
by Dale Reeves
Labor Day 2019 is upon us. The children in your home or in your neighborhood are probably already back in school, but this officially marks the end of summer. I love summer with its flexible schedules and cookouts, swimming and ball games, vacations, ice cream at the Whippy Dip, and lots of sweet tea—but I love the fall season even more . . . the smell of leaves burning; the cool, crisp nighttime air; fall festivals, corn mazes, and applefests; and Saturday afternoon college football games.
Is Labor Day simply a transition day for us to move on from the dog days of summer to pumpkin spice overkill? For the city of Cincinnati, Labor Day is an excuse for the biggest fireworks show of the year. Every year from both sides of the Ohio River, half a million people witness the booming extravaganza by Rozzi’s fireworks choreographed to a quirky soundtrack by WEBN. But, is there more to this celebration?
Labor Day originated during one of the most dismal chapters in American labor history. In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, many Americans worked 12-hour days and six- or seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as five or six worked in mills, factories, and mines across the country earning a fraction of what they should have been paid. People worked in extremely unsafe working conditions with insufficient breaks and bathrooms. Before long, labor unions grew more vocal, and they began organizing rallies and strikes to protest the poor conditions. Some of these gatherings turned violent. On September 5, 1882, an estimated 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, thus holding the first Labor Day parade in American history.
As strikes continued across the country protesting wage cuts and the firing of union representatives, Congress was increasingly pressured to do something about it. The waves of riots had resulted in the deaths of numerous American workers. It would be 12 years later before Congress legalized the holiday, as President Grover Cleveland signed Labor Day into law.
Labor Day is observed on a Monday so that workers can enjoy a three-day weekend. But, ironically, it causes some of the longest working hours for retail workers, because the Labor Day weekend is notorious for having crazy sales. And, other professionals including correctional and police officers, firefighters, nurses, and more also have to work long hours on Monday. And EMTs know this fact all too well—Labor Day is the second most dangerous holiday weekend to drive on U.S. highways, following closely behind Memorial Day. So, please be careful out there!
So, what are your plans this Labor Day? How are you going to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of workers in our country? You could choose to spend the day like the sloth at the zoo, spend all day in your pajamas, catch up on some much-needed sleep, binge-watch Netflix, forget about getting 10,000 steps in, and order your food through DoorDash® all day long. (Sounds inviting, doesn’t it?) Or, you could do something more proactive.
If you’re looking for some suggestions, please allow me to suggest a few . . .
- Attend a Community Event
Check out the local paper and browse event sites to discover fun things happening in your community. There may be live music, craft fairs, food trucks, or other themed events going on.
- Take a Day Trip with Your Family
Use a tool like Travelmath.com to find destinations within a certain radius of your home. Choose the distance you are willing to travel (say two hours), then research what there is to do and see in those locations.
- Organize and Host a Neighborhood Block Party
Especially if you’ve had new families move into your community to begin the new school year. Then, end the evening with a bonfire. Gathering around a firepit, roasting marshmallows, and eating s’mores brings out great conversation with old and new friends.
4. Bake a Pie
What a scrumptious way to thank a neighbor, health care professional, or public servant for what they do. (My favorite is coconut cream pie, by the way.) Many people in our church have recently taken up the Pie Challenge. #PIE #PrayInviteEngage #ItsAsEasyAsPIE
- Pray for, and Shop for Teachers and School Administrators
If you have children at home, get them involved in making a craft or buying gift cards for their new teachers. (There’s nothing wrong with giving teachers an apple, but a gift card to a restaurant or the movies would be even nicer.) If your kids are beyond the school-attending years, even better. Teachers and administrators would be shocked to receive a thank-you card or gift from someone who doesn’t have kids in their school. And, continue to pray for them throughout the school year.
- Take a Hike, Then Take a Nap
Embrace the beautiful weather, grab some friends, and go on a trek through nature. The fall season can get crazy with everyone’s “go, go, go” schedules, so stop and smell whatever wildflowers you encounter on the way. Then come home, curl up with a good book, and about five pages in let yourself drift off into a siesta. God worked, then God rested. He set an example for us to follow.
- Try Something New
Explore a new museum or exhibit, go fruit picking, browse garage sales, check out a new restaurant, volunteer for a community event, pretend you’re Bob Ross and paint a landscape, let your kids or grandkids cook with you in your kitchen. Step out of your comfort zone. You might be pleasantly surprised, and when others at your workplace are swapping stories of their Labor Day outings, a single story about something you did that no one expected might earn you some bragging rights.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, advises us, “Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchangefor the hard work of staying alive.Make the most of each one!Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!” (Ecclesiastes 9:9, 10, The Message).
Seize the last ounce of summer. If you’ve worked hard all year long, rest hard, and play hard. If you haven’t worked hard, that’s another story. Acknowledge the freedoms you have as a worker in today’s United States compared to a century ago—and enjoy your extra day off to the fullest.