Labor Day – Whattup with That?

Do you know what’s awesome about the beginning of a school year? It shoots right out of the gate with a built-in day off. Boom. Labor Day! Just a few minutes into Meet-Your-Teacher. Cool.

But . . . by show of hands, how many of you know what Labor Day is all about, besides sending summer off with a bang? Yeah, me neither. I mean, I know we don’t have to work or go to school. We can’t wear white after it. And Americans consume 800+ hotdogs per second in backyards across the country while celebrating it. Sooo . . . what’s the party for?

Well, I did a little Googly-ness this week and discovered that, in fact, Labor Day was instituted for the American Laborer, not Oscar Meyer or white pants. Because the American Laborer was getting fed up with their narsty hours and pitiful pay. So, to chill them out Grover Cleveland threw a holiday onto the books and sent everyone off to eat those 800+ hotdogs. Which apparently worked. Scary meat = Labor Rights.

Oohhkay. I still don’t get it. I just know I’m grateful I get to spend a day goofing around with my family a mere week after spending two-point-five months goofing around with them in the summer sun.

And I know I'm not the only one awash in gratitude. Talk to any emergency room doc and you’ll learn that Labor Day could be renamed “Cram In Every Activity You Didn’t Do Over the Summer Plus a Lot of Really Stupid Ones Your Mom Would Never Let you Do” Day. Because according to my Bro-in-law’s bro, that’s the day his ER fills up with more people who have power-nailed roof tiles to their hand, or embedded tire spokes in their calf doing half-gainers off a cliff into the swimmin’ hole on their bike, than any other. It pays the ER Laborer’s bills. Well that is worthy of celebrating! I am totally supportive of that! Especially as I’ve never done anything stupid this time of year to put myself in the ER with everyone else.


Except for, you know, that one Labor Day I fell off my son’s bunk bed while tucking him in and slammed the living shortcake out of my left ulnar nerve. It put me in a medical wrap that totally did something weird to my hand.

No, it did. My hand turned blue. The whole hand, fingers and all. And it was the middle of the night so I had to go to the ER and was probably going to need surgery to fix whatever the heck was wrong with me. I might lose my hand! And it was going to require all of the ER Laborers to figure it out—which none of them could. They even called my elbow doctor, but he’d never heard of that before. And holy cow was I going to die? Was I?

No. I was not. But I was going to dye. Turned out I was wearing new jeans and had spent the holiday resting my aching arm and fingers on those freshly dyed pants. The deathly hand disease washed right off the second I got back home from the ER, and about two seconds before I ate my hot dog. Awe. Some.

So maybe some of us aren’t quite mature enough to celebrate Labor Day yet. Honoring labor rights is important, but clearly the day is also responsible for removing some of our brain cells. Happy Back To School Day instead. ‘Cuz there’s irony in that.

About Janiel 433 Articles
I have managed to keep the same husband for nearly three decades, and the same four children for almost that long - although one or two of them say it has been much longer. I have been writing since I learned to hold a pencil, and trying to make people laugh even longer. I hope to do some good in the world before I go the way of it. And if not, I'd better at least get to visit Ireland.

1 Comment

  1. For me, every day is labor day and Labor Day proper is just an excuse to give everyone in the family a longer list to get done fast because The Summer Is Over.   And It Will Get Too Cold to Finish This Mess If You Don't Hurry.    Ironic, because it's in the 90s here and feels like it will never get cool again.   My kids can't wait for fall.

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