Tag Archives: Labor Day

Happy new year

Everyone knows the real New Year begins the day after Labor Day. January 1st is just a date that brings a new calendar but not much else of significance.

Historically, school starts the day after Labor Day, though many jurisdictions have bumped it to August. Congress is back, Washington traffic will build to its usual awful and the white shoes of those who observe proper etiquette are aptly stored in boxes until next May.

It’s time for resolutions. Last Labor Day, I gave up coffee, but the old demon has dripped back into my life. Time to filter out that and other bad habits that brewed over the summer—the trips to Baskin Robbins, the chips and dips, the carbonated beverages.

It used to be that Labor Day was marked by the Jerry Lewis Multiple Dystrophy telethon, but this year it was a condensed telethon sans Jerry. In honor of Jerry—and because I was a little down—I spent much of yesterday on the sofa, watching a marathon of Jerry Lewis movies on Antenna TV.

Several times over the weekend, I heard from parents who had dropped their freshmen off at college. While sitting with a friend Sunday night, we traded observations about how the college drop-off has changed over the last 30 years.

After filling multiple carts at Bed Bath and Beyond, parents now haul truckloads of electronics, appliances, shelving and bedding (coordinated between roommates) into kids’ dorms, make their beds, set out their color-coded file folders on their neatly organized desks, hang bulletin boards, place their folded tee shirts and underwear into school-issued dressers, set out mailing supplies for writing Grandma, and leave them behind with hugs, tearful goodbyes and as much advice as we can hurl at them while pulling out of the parking lot.

I shared with my friend a memory of moving into my freshman dorm. Granted, I was just moving across town. Regardless, on the night before classes began, I packed one large turquoise pleather suitcase, grabbed an afghan I had crocheted that summer, watched Jerry Lewis sing his ceremonial “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and drove myself to college.

It’s the day after Labor Day once again and I’m looking forward to a happy New Year. It was kind of a weird summer for me, so I’m not particularly sorry to leave it behind. Here’s to a new school year, to resolutions, to fabulous fall fabrics. And to Jerry Lewis.


Filed under Food, Health, Holidays, Movies, Television and Radio

Leaders of tomorrow

In the interest of full disclosure, this post is recycled.

Last year about this time, our local Gazette newspaper issued a call for readers’ stories involving memories of the first day of school. These would be published on the day after Labor Day, even though our school systems here begin just before the holiday. Having vivid memories from all of my first days of school, I immediately sent one in. The day before the submittals were to be printed, I received an e-mail from the feature editor. I’ve scoured my computer unsuccessfully for that message, but it said something to the effect of: “Dear Ms. Welch, thank you for the piece you submitted for our first day of school feature. We found it to be very good but, unfortunately, yours was the only one we received. Therefore, we have chosen not to run the feature.”

Considering this is the day after Labor Day and, for many, the start of a new year, I thought it appropriate–and efficient–to recycle this memory. It’s especially meaningful to me because this is the first year I haven’t had a child starting classes. Anyway, here it is:

From a young age, I remember my father’s exuberance on the first day of school. Every year, he shared his passion for learning in a motivational speech at the bus stop, which happened to be in front of our house.  

“You are the Leaders of Tomorrow,” he shouted, charging us to “go out into the world and learn, learn, learn so you can earn, earn, earn!” The booming oration probably lasted 30 seconds but, to me, seemed like an eternity, each phrase pounding me deeper into embarrassment. My schoolmates, amused by my father’s performance, looked forward to the ritual. But every year, on the night before the first day of school, the dread disturbed my sleep. 

As I grew older, circumstances changed, we moved, there was no longer a central bus stop, but the Leaders of Tomorrow message never failed to reach me in some form or fashion. Eventually, Leaders of Tomorrow was shortened to L.O.T., but I always knew what it meant—how can one miss an enormous  L.O.T. placard on the lawn? Even at college, my father found creative ways of getting his L.O.T. greeting to me on the first day of classes.  

I had the first grandchild 21 years ago. Each year from kindergarten through high school, there was always an L.O.T. surprise awaiting my son on our front porch, often pre-orchestrated when my father was out of town, even out of the country. An L.O.T. even reached my son on his first day of college in North Carolina. 

Now I rise with excitement on the first day of school, step out of my empty nest onto the porch and watch little ones “go out into the world,” as my father would say. And I breathe in the exuberance.


Filed under Family and Friends

It’s a wrap

It seems like just yesterday that I was taking out my whites for the summer and extolling the virtues of summer clothing etiquette. Here it is already Labor Day, a day when putting the whites back in the attic until next Memorial Day is but one holiday ritual of many, around here anyway.

Another Labor Day ritual, as far back as I can remember, is checking in throughout the weekend with Jerry Lewis and cheering on his efforts to raise money for Muscular Dystrophy research. I think it’s great that he’s still at it. Where I grew up, Labor Day also meant taking one final swim in the neighborhood pool and heading home to dread the start of a new school year.

Where I live now, in Kensington, Maryland, four miles over the D.C. line, Labor Day is huge. The last time I checked, the Town of Kensington’s Labor Day Parade had the acclaim of being the largest small-town parade in the state. The parade spotlights our local businesses and scout troops, beauty queens and politicians. And in an election year such as this, the politicians might even outnumber the marching bands. We even have an occasional protester.

Among scores of floats carrying our local hip hop teams and square dancers, garage bands and artisans, we can always count on seeing best-selling author and quirky television commentator Matthew Lesko, who works under the moniker The Free Money Guy. Can’t place him? He appears on TV in a suit covered in neon question marks. His car is painted in the same pattern.

You might know Kensington. We were hit tragically by the 2002 snipers, and in 2001 we received national news coverage when our mayor banned Santa Claus from the Town’s annual tree lighting ceremony, only to be stormed by hundreds of Santa-clad protestors, most of whom rode in on Harleys.

We’ve been a town since 1894 which, coincidentally, is the year Labor Day became an official national holiday. So I’m off this morning for the parade, then to the closet for the end-of-summer ritual and finally, to the television for the traditional telethon finale, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

Then I’ll officially call it a summer.

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Filed under Holidays