First Posted: 8/30/2013
Esquire magazine nailed it.
Labor Day is Memorial Day … without the optimism.
Try as we might to get excited about the last holiday of summer, Labor Day has a saddness about it. A saddness wrapped in gloom. It’s hardly a holiday at all.
Labor Day is an ending. A curtain falling. A last call.
Labor Day means the party’s over. The jig is up. We’ve been found out.
“So that’s where you’ve been, well, get the heck back to work,” Labor Day seems to say, fully living up to its name.
Labor Day is summer’s Dear John letter. “What we had was fun, but …”
It’s the day we hated to see arrive but knew would.
Art Garfunkel sang, “Endings always come at last, endings always come too fast …”
Okay, he wasn’t singing about Labor Day, but he could have been. After all, wasn’t it just the 4th of July?
Aside from its nobel purpose — to honor laborers and their toil — and the simple fact that, irony aside, it is a day off from work, it’s hard to defend Labor Day as a holiday.
Yet, as a self-professed optimist, I sorta think I’m supposed to.
It’s a daunting task to be sure, but you know what? The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced it’s not going to be as hard as I thought.
I can tell you why in one word.
Say it with me.
Can’t you just feel that Labor Day ship already starting to turn around?
Ending my eye. The word football alone makes Labor Day a beginning … and I dare say, every bit the beginning Memorial Day is.
High school football. College football. Pro football. Even mini football. It all starts now. And it’s going to be with us right through the end of the year … and beyond.
Match that, Memorial Day.
And the start of football only enhances what Labor Day means to a sports fan.
Major League baseball is just getting to the most interesting part of its season and if you are a tennis fan, the U.S. Open is halfway through to the finals. One might call Labor Day a little glimpse of sports heaven.
And we haven’t even mentioned NASCAR, hockey, soccer.
How about bowling? Leagues are starting up everywhere.
And fall golf. My friends who play tell me all the time there’s nothing like fall golf.
But wait, as the infomercials say, there’s more.
Labor Day is the equivalent of the starter’s pistol on lots of other things. Here’s a few more:
Sleeping with the windows open. Fresh air instead of AC.
And sweatshirts with team logos.
Trips to Brace’s Orchard to buy a freshly picked bushel.
Baked apples. Smell the cinnamon.
Cups of coffee or hot chocolate with both hands around them for the warmth.
Weiner roasts. Do people still do those anymore? They should.
The Bloomsburg Fair. Eat all you want, it’s nine months to swimsuit season.
But it’s only 43 days to Columbus Day sales.
60 days to Halloween.
And trick or treaters.
88 to Thanksgiving.
And sweet potatoes.
115 to Christmas.
And decorating the tree.
And 64 to Election Day, which most likely won’t mean anything to anyone save the candidates who probably feel they’ve been campaigning forever.
Where was I?
Oh, Labor Day also signals the start of:
Oktoberfest micro brews. (Confession: already had a Spaten Oktoberfest. Delicious.)
Pre-game tailgate parties.
With whipped cream.
Now, I’m not normally a fan of flavored beer, but might I suggest: Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat, Shipyard Pumpkinhead, Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin and Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale.
Harvest moons themselves. The kind that shine in a clear autumn sky.
The fall harvest.
Both with hunks of warm bread fresh from the oven. Pumpernickle will be just fine.
Flaming fall foliage.
Drives on country roads to see it.
Yes, I enjoy raking leaves. Just wish we could still burn them in the gutter as my dad did when we were kids. Miss that smell.
Veteran’s Day. Miss that dad.
Did I mention football?
Notre Dame-Michigan. Next Saturday.
Michigan at Penn State
Penn State at Ohio State.
Can you say upset?
Eagles-Redskins, first Monday Night Football game of the season, Sept. 9.
Steelers-Ravens. Oct. 20.
Steelers games at Cuz’s sports bar. Season opener next Sunday.
And none of this would be possible without Labor Day.
Good ole Labor Day.
Sam Adams Oktoberfest. Almost forgot.