Kick back on Labor Day

By NANCY ZEMAN nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 9/4/19

Labor Day signals the shift from lazy summer afternoons and abbreviated office hours to the busyness and excitement of fall, but it also reminds us to do something we often forget to do—simply sit …

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Kick back on Labor Day

Posted

Labor Day signals the shift from lazy summer afternoons and abbreviated office hours to the busyness and excitement of fall, but it also reminds us to do something we often forget to do—simply sit back and relax.

Created in the 19th century and celebrated the first Monday of each September, this federal holiday is a tribute to working men and women. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, “[Labor Day] constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”

Statistics show Americans work longer hours than citizens of most other countries — 137 more hours per year than Japan, 260 more per year than the UK, and 499 more than France. And our productivity is high — 400 percent higher than it was in 1950. We totally deserve that day off.

Labor Day is a time to celebrate the benefits we enjoy at our jobs — including weekends off. The concept of American workers taking days off dates back to 1791, when a group of carpenters in Philadelphia went on strike to demand a shorter work week (10-hour days, to be exact). It wasn't until 1836 workers started demanding eight-hour workdays. So, nine-to-five doesn't sound so bad after all.

In the spirit of the founders, Labor Day is still celebrated with union-organized parades, colorful festivals and parties and picnics.

Many use the last days of summer as an opportunity to have a barbecue with friends, while others use it for a last-minute getaway. The holiday is associated with heavy congestion on roads and at airports.

Much like Memorial Day, which marks the traditional beginning of summer, Labor Day generally signifies that the season has ended — even though the calendar says otherwise. Holiday sales, barbecues and travel tend to rule the day, while children continue to adjust to the harsh reality of back-to-school season.

As far as American sports are concerned, Labor Day weekend signals baseball’s pennant races have entered their final stretch, and tennis fans get an extra day to watch the season’s last Grand Slam event — the U.S. Open in New York City.

NFL regular-season games typically begin following Labor Day. This year the NFL Kickoff Game takes place Sept. 5 with the Chicago Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers. It’s one of the league’s all-time great rivalries.

It’s satisfying successfully preparing an elaborate meal for family and friends but for Labor Day why not try a slightly less, well, laborious approach.

So, do gather friends for a meal — and with luck dine outside — but don't spend hours in the kitchen. We've created a menu that allows a host to focus on the company rather than the cooking.

Gather near the grill and let the smell of charred shrimp or pork shoulder intoxicate all. Nibble on crackers smeared with decadent artichoke dip. Most importantly, enjoy.

For those who are experiencing late-summer culinary fatigue and haven’t gone near the barbecue in a while, now is the time to refresh those grilling skills, because Labor Day weekend is the last chance to make the ultimate grilling feast before the season is over. Wear all the white clothing before needing to stash it away — I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them — and take no responsibility for stains, spots and/or smears.