A One-Day Respite
Labor Day is a perfectly nice holiday, as good as a Monday off ever gets. But a Monday off is really just a wrinkle in time. By the time you sleep late and have a leisurely cup of coffee, the holiday is half over, and Tuesday — and a whole new season — is looming ahead. What we really need is Labor Week, a seven-day antidote to the very American habit of overworking. Not just another week of August, which we managed to fill up with work this year anyway. We’re thinking of a week with no news and nothing newsworthy, a week of national, collective pause in which the gears of ordinary life fall silent.
All the studies say that no one works harder than Americans do. It is both the natural response to the land of opportunity and the cost of living in such a material culture. For most of us, it’s easier just to go on working, caught up in the familiar day-to-day rhythms, than it is to take a real vacation. The routine of work becomes the bedrock of our lives, the substance of who we are. Perhaps that’s the real logic of a one-day holiday like Labor Day. For that one day you float suspended while life churns onward, ready to catch you up again. If we all shared a national Labor Week, there would be losses, people who decided never to go back to work again. There is not much attrition from Labor Day.
So August was busier than you meant it to be, and September is already overbooked and spilling into October. It’s not too early to buy plane tickets home for Thanksgiving, and whose turn is it to have Christmas anyway? Meanwhile, there is today, Labor Day. It isn’t much — except, of course, that it’s everything. Perhaps this will be the Monday that refuses to admit the existence of Tuesday.