A little humor for the holiday

Labor Day Weekend. The last summer holiday. Time for some fun, food and family activities.

It’s a serious holiday, but it can also include some humor. For example: Labor Day celebrates the contribution of workers to our country’s social and economic success. How do we celebrate? By not working.

Doug Larson suggested that “If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end … it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.”

Someone else wrote “I wish I made enough money from my labor to be able to afford a Labor Day vacation!”

Coupled with the attempts at humor are reminders that this is a serious annual holiday customarily viewed as the end of the summer vacation season.

This special observance had its beginning in the labor union movement. It has been called the eight-hour day movement — which supported eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest. In the United States, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Sept. 5, 1882. It became a federal holiday in 1894.

We may observe the holiday, and the weekend, with mixed feelings. Depending on our state of employment, and the success of our daily jobs, we may enjoy a little humor while also voicing a negative view or comment about our work, our boss or the state of the economy. Like Abraham Lincoln, we might say “My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to like it.”

Or, consider country songs about work and their descriptions of “Hard Workin’ Men,” “National Working Woman’s Holiday,” Workin’ Man Blues,” and even, on a really bad day, “Take This Job and Shove it.”

On our better days, including pay day, we may have a more upbeat approach to our work and its importance to our family, friends and communities. Considering the traditions built up around the barbecues, trips to the lake or the mountains, games of horseshoes in the backyard, and family get-togethers, the Labor Day Weekend is a great time for appreciating those traditions which we value.

And, to remember American pioneers—men and women—-thousands of whom came through the Cumberland Gap on their way to new lands and who toiled to make our lives better as they helped build a great nation.

William H. Baker, native of Claiborne County and former resident of Middlesboro, may be contacted at wbaker@limestone.edu