Today my friends and loved ones back home are celebrating Labor Day. Though the meaning of the holiday, the first Monday in September, should be self-explanatory from its name (a celebration of people with jobs, which might not be much of one this year, considering the unemployment rate in the U.S.), I doubt that most people ever stop to think about it.
Like Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer, Labor Day, summer's unofficial finish line, is best known as another day off from work, the end of the last three-day weekend of the year (unless you get Columbus Day off, which I never did), and if you're into that sort of thing (and I never was) and living North of the Mason-Dixon line, possibly the final beach day until next spring.
For me, it was something far more significant: my favorite holiday. Seriously. Though there are no fireworks involved, no big turkey dinners, no gift exchanges, no Santa, no Easter Bunny, no all-night parties, Labor Day always had a special place in my heart. No, I didn't spend all year breathlessly anticipating it, but I was always thrilled by its arrival. During my first decade in New York City, it was notable for Wigstock, my favorite expression of gay pride, which I experienced just two weeks after arriving in town. So for me, it marks the anniversary of my unofficial coming-out party.
Before that year (1991), it meant back to school (yes, I was one of those geeks who actually looked forward to it), and it still means the start of Oscar-movie season and the end of the summer sun (break out those turtlenecks!). If I were still living in the U.S.A., autumn, my favorite season, would be just around the corner!
Oh, and I wouldn't have to work either. What's not to love? Well, maybe the end of summer Fridays, but you can't have everything.
Labor Day just doesn't have quite the same effect in Buenos Aires (where I spent Labor Days 2007 to 2009) and Australia (where I spent Labor Day 2010) because the seasons are reversed. And here in Bangkok (where I'm spending Labor Day for the second straight year), it's always borderline boiling. (That's the reason why I get into Christmas even less than I did before I left NYC. You're supposed to be dashing through the snow, not riding a wave!)
But my holiday spirit remains, and today I'll pay my respects to my one of my favorite days of the year with music, a soundtrack that actually honors what Labor Day is all about.
"Work Hard, Play Hard" Wiz Khalifa
"Work It" Missy Elliott
"Work to Do" Vanessa Williams
"Work Is a Four-Letter Word" The Smiths
"Work That" Mary J. Blige
"Workin' Overtime" Diana Ross
"Working for the Weekend" Loverboy
"Working My Way Back to You" Spinners
"Whistle While You Work" Snow White