Happy Labor Day!

How will you celebrate? Are you having an end of the summer cookout? Enjoying the long weekend by taking a mini vacation (like me)? Or maybe you’re taking advantage of all the Labor Day sales at the mall? Today is a good day to buy a new car! This Labor Day, I actually got to thinking about my changing view of what Labor Day is all about. I know, right? Who gets nostalgic about Labor Day? Me.

A few years ago, in graduate school, I attended a field school in Jamaica. We happened to be there during the time that Jamaica’s “Labour Day” fell (I think it was in May). I thought everyone would get a day off and we’d all go to the beach and play in the sand, yadda yadda. Au contraire. Although Labour day IS a public holiday in Jamaica, it has now come to be a day of public service. So really, you don’t get the day off. You get to spend the day participating in projects that make your community better. You celebrate how the labor of others was the foundation upon which your country was built and you show your appreciation by pitching in. Jamaica’s Labour Day is really a community service day.

I remember being really impressed by this. What a great way to turn a holiday into something productive and proactive. A Pay-It-Forward Public Holiday. And of course, here in the States we do take the time out on this day to honor those who have worked and are working so hard to make this country what it is. And maybe, while we’re finding bargain deals at Old Navy, or enjoying the last few days of Summer and slurping up those last pieces of watermelon, we can think about how we can pay it forward on Our Labor Day, too.

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