Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

We're going bowling on Labor Day.  Yay!  The USA has celebrated Labor Day as an official federal holiday since 1894.  Unfortunately for many employees, Christmas, New Year's Day and other heavily observed holidays such as Memorial Day don't experience the retail closure they once used to when I was a girl.  In fact, some holidays like President's day have been completely absconded with and I think this is the perfect day to talk about it.

Christmas Day in particular I recall you had nowhere to go except maybe restaurants.  Oh, and churches, of course.  If we went for a walk or a drive, it was to sightsee displays or to visit relatives and friends.  As we drove through the neighborhood we'd pass dark stores with empty parking lots.  Traffic was minimal.  Sometimes we'd be the only car on a given road.

Memorial Day was a bit like that, though there were more people out and about visiting cemeteries and memorials.  Even when I was young Labor Day usually had grocery stores open because of all the cooking that goes on.  Alas, we will always have workers working on Labor Day, but I believe it's always been that way.  For some workers to have access to entertainment and food, others have to supply.  Folks older than me may remember a time when it wasn't like that.  I'm all ears if you remember!

Anyway now it seems a great many stores are open 365 days a year.  It's a shame.  And it's our own fault.  If people didn't shop, didn't go in the parking lot and bang on the doors, didn't write letters to managers or talk to their friends about how they really needed to pick up a turkey on Thanksgiving because they burned the original one and how dare the stores be closed, then we'd probably still have that wonderful, ghostly quiet on most federal holidays.  I would love to have that feeling of silence and calm for Martin King Luther Day.  It would be nice for President's Day, though I think that one is doomed forever.  

Because people want to spend their money.  Their money is burning holes in their pockets. Remember when having money burning a hole in your pocket implied that you didn't have the self-control to put it in savings?  It wasn't supposed to be a sign that you should spend it!  People need the diversion of buying stuff, it seems, to enjoy life these days.  They need the security blanket of having stores open all the time because they're afraid that the huge stockpile of food in their fridge won't last one day.  Thanksgiving dinner will be ruined if they forget the cranberries.  Isn't part of Thanksgiving supposed to be being thankful for what we have, as opposed to sweating about what we don't have?  And I bet, when someone is sent for cranberries they pick up other stuff while they're there.  Because it just isn't Thanksgiving without a blueray copy of Zardoz.

There will always be people laboring on Labor Day.  But there used to be a lot fewer.  If you want to help turn back the clock, don't shop on Labor Day.  If no one comes to the stores, the stores will close.  We have total control over that.  

But the kids and I will go bowling.  Disneyland, Six Flags, National Parks, all those great, fun places that families go when they have a day off really should be open on Labor Day because labor day is supposed to be a day of rest, a day spent celebrating the worker's vital contribution to society and entertainment should abound.  But shopping?  I know a lot of people find it fun and relaxing, I really do.  But it's that non-stop shopping that keeps the workers of our nation in debt, and it would be nice if the workers, like me, like you, like pretty much everyone I know who isn't retired, took a break from buying plastic plates and bed sheets on sale and tiki torches and that blouse that you wear only once and decide the color isn't right in sunlight and a matching toilet cleaning set for the upstairs bathroom and a new cat toy for Kitty and a new bed for Spot and a new cover for your cellphone and a new cleaning product because you hope that magically the floor will come clean with just a few swipes just like on the commercial and--and it's all junk.  Join me in saying no to junk for a few days of the year.  We can buy junk the other 361 or 298 or however many regular days of the year there isn't a holiday.  Go to town and have a blast on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Maybe even enjoy the President's Day sales--they're here to stay, I'm sure.  But wouldn't it be nice if we as consumers took control, as we've always had control, and just decided to live one occasional day every few months without snooping around the clearance racks and toy aisles for more stuff to wash and dust in our cluttered homes?  Yes, I'm guilty as charged too.  I'm ready for a change.  

I'm ready to go bowling on Labor Day, and to make dinner that I bought the stuff for yesterday, and to play board games and read and spend time with my kids.  Sounds like fun to me!  Sounds like a great break and a good way to spend Labor Day.

2 comments:

Things that puzzle this other goddess.... said...

Unfortunately, when people live paycheck to paycheck and want to treat their kids they end up shopping on labor day weekend. :) We didn't have any money until Wednesday. We count on those pesky paychecks and plan around what stuff we can buy, when.

I would have adored spending today playing board games with the kids and my hubby or watching movies. But for some reason high school coaches think their sport is important enough that families don't get to celebrate labor day. If the kids don't go to practice, they don't play in the first game.

Maybe next year I can plan it so that I can actually rest for some of the weekend and not just hibernate through the day because of trauma!
love you, ttptog

Kami said...

You are so way a cooler mom than me for doing the sports thing with your kids. I was never that organized. My kids are sadly sports free. If they had their pick, it would be fencing, so it's not just me. Driving into N Portland 3 days a week? Ugh.

And as for shopping out of necessity, hey, I will absolutely not argue with that. People can't always buy clothes just anytime. (Raises own hand.) We were lucky enough to get most of our school clothes spread over the summer. A couple pairs of pants for each kid in July, a couple of shirts in early August, a couple of jackets mid-August, a shirt for the boy and a sweater for the girl about a week and a half ago. Oh, and shoes for the boy. The girl got shoes too, but from a surprising source--my old high school buddy wears the same size shoes as A and had a pair she only wore a couple of times before she put them away last year. How awesome is that? Even more awesome is that A liked them.

The other snazzy thing is that O can wear R's pants while R is away.

I should go buy a lottery ticket. That's just too lucky to be real.