Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, meant to commemorate the hard work of American laborers "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." Nice, right?
But in practice, more than 125 years later, Labor Day is one of those vague holidays where the intent and the execution are vastly different. Those delving and carving and sweating in the lower end of the labor market are the most likely to be working on this so-called holiday, whether they're serving you fast food, giving you extra towels at the resort you booked, or selling you meats to barbecue at your local grocery store.
No one really tells you what to do on Labor Day and how to spend that time. We have some ideas.
1. Sleep in. We are a sleep-deprived nation. Rest up.
2. If you have the day off on Labor Day, take the day off. That means not checking work emails, not scheduling Zooms, not trying to get ahead of the shorter work week. You're blessed to have the day off, don't spend it working.
3. If you are working Labor Day, try to take some time for yourself. Whether it's a nice meal on your lunch break or a happy hour with loved ones, celebrate the work you do and how hard you do it.
4. Don't be a lone wolf. Maybe you need time away from your coworkers and bosses, but if you actually enjoy their company, why not invite some of the people who make work fun for you for a cookout or a movie outing? Spending even more time with your coworkers may sound like a drag but it does have benefits.
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5. Get some exercise. If you use the excuse of not having enough time to work out or do something active, now's your time to get sweaty. If you don't have a gym membership, take advantage of a day pass or free trial offer if one's available. Or just get outside if you're not in the national heat zone.
6. Tip. And tip again. The people we mentioned who are working today are not thrilled to miss a day off. Tip them well, whether it's a valet driver, a restaurant server, or your barber. Twenty percent is the minimum, but you can go well beyond that. If there's a small business you like, throw them a nice review on Yelp or Google.
7. Be grateful. Your job may not be all that you dreamed, but if you are gainfully employed, can pay your bills on time, and have health benefits, you're ahead of where a lot of people are. Take a moment to count your blessings as a productive member of America's labor force. This holiday is for you.