01 September 2008

Labor Day

In 1882 the Central Labor Union of New York City sought to create “a day off for the working citizens”. In 2008, nearly everyone I know had to work today and I was nearly among them as the “day job” is open until 1pm.

From New Years to Christmas most of us have taken to working through the holidays without a second thought. Shorten the hours, throw in a little extra pay (depending on your state) and all is well in the land of the holiday worker. That's because holidays aren’t about the time off or even the time spent with family. National holidays are about being on the same page at the same time as the group you feel embraced by (or merely the ones you pass on the street).

The "Holiday Spirit" is often about the "National Spirit", especially in America and that is something we desperately need. You see, regardless of what the extreme religious right likes to think, we are a nation of diverse faiths and those celebrations of church and temple must also reach into the secular in order to be enough.

I have friends that celebrate Easter and those that celebrate Ostara, a segment that’s all about Thanksgiving (more quasi-religious each year), and another all about Mabon and Cornucopia. I celebrate Christmas with my family and Yule with my extended family, and in the end, for us at least, it is the similarities rather than the differences that keep us smiling all year. For others it is those unifying secular days that keep up from falling out over the differing spiritual ones.

New Years, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day and several others let us set aside our differences and for a moment simply be Americans coming together in the spirit of America. She’s a young country that has stumbled greatly along the way and it is these rituals and cycles that give a bit of cohesion to a diverse populous throughout the year. And I believe that it is these things we do together that remove the sting and perceived threat of those things we do apart.

So for my fellow Americans, whether you worked or rested today, happy Labor Day. I appreciate all of your hard work and that of those who came before us to build this country and forge a nation in which anything is possible. May you find comfort and strength in all the similarities and differences we will experience in the months to come.

And as you relax and watch a parade while eating the last fruits of summer, take a moment and give a nod to the other celebrants of September 1st this year. It is the first day of Ramadan for those who follow Islam allowing the secular and religious to meet for Islamic-Americans today. I experience this duality each Halloween when others forget we’re not all in it just for the candy(*grin*).

So I pause a moment to think of everyone for whom today holds meaning along with those for whom today was nothing more than a great day to be alive. May whatever you believe in bless and keep you. And as Americans may we find a way to always be in the same book even when we can't always be on the same page.

Holiday Ramble Done

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