Monday, September 2, 2013
Why it's time to change Labor Day to Leisure Day
If anyone thinks by blogging on Labor Day I’m engaging in actual labor they know even less about blogging than they do about labor.
About the only things farther from labor than blogging involve sex and sleeping -- and as soon as I learn how to comfortably blog while lying flat on my back even that point will be moot.
Blogging is something I enjoy, something that releases rather than causes tension and something I sometimes do while eating Lucky Charms.
True labor involves none of those things.
Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since 1894, back when I’ll wager at least 80 percent of the population was engaged in actual productive labor. Men tilled the earth, they shoveled coal into fiery furnaces, they sawed timber by hand.
It wasn’t any easier for the fairer sex, many of whom had to drag heavy buckets of water from distant wells to their homes to use in tedious cooking and cleaning procedures. They made by hand their own family clothes and baked everything from scratch with ingredients they’d harvest or butcher themselves.
Many of them did this in lonely solitude without even the comfort of Ellen DeGeneres riffing in the background.
Life was dangerous and often endlessly grim.
Today I’d be hard-pressed to think of anyone who works as hard as their grandfathers did. Heck, it’s difficult to think of anyone who works as hard as their grandmothers did.
I think it’s time we changed Labor Day to Leisure Day, a celebration about how much easier life’s become.
I’m confused why we still celebrate a day dedicated to working when nearly everyone I know spends his or her time either moaning about having to work or scheming plans that’ll ensure they get out of having to work.
Labor Day just seems anachronistic in so many ways.
The lone example of people who still labor as hard as our forebears are women who, ironically, are engaged in the act of labor.
Ever seen it?
It’s impossible to imagine more arduous work. There’s sweat, blood, pain and primal screams in a gut-wrenching ordeal that can last as long as 20 hours.
A woman in labor is truly working her butt off -- and if you’ve ever witnessed the procedure that phrase is in some ways more descriptive than metaphorical. It’s a wonder.
And that’s for women who’re being coached by supportive spouses and friends.
Some women have neither.
My wife had it worst of all. She had me heckling her.
It’s true. Not wanting her to lose her edge, I stood there, arms folded, saying things like, “Don’t you think you’re being just a tad over-dramatic?” And screaming, “Enough with all these damn theatrics! Push! Push! Push, you filthy whore, you!”
If we’re going to keep celebrating Labor Day maybe we should all do away with the picnics, the badminton, the cookouts and all the other leisure activities and for at least one day a year all go to work.
We could get together as communities and dig flood control drainage ditches, clean up vacant lots, help stabilize the porch railing for the old neighbor lady -- do some actual labor that involves breaking a sweat.
It would be a respectful nod to the people who came before us and helped literally pave the way for our pleasant lives of comparative leisure.
Of course, you can still feel free to enjoy your Labor Day in the traditional way.
Laboring on Labor Day is just a suggestion.
It’s nothing to get all worked up over.
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