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Lenore Skenazy
Lenore Skenazy
14 Aug 2014
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The Holiday That Ruins Summer


Ever get a card saying "Happy Labor Day!"?

Of course not. Because there is no such thing as a happy Labor Day. It's like wishing someone, "Have a great splinter!" "Enjoy your SATs!" "May your work on the chain gang bring joy and satisfaction."

Labor Day is just about the only Monday off that it is impossible to look forward to. Who needs a three-day weekend when that third day basically serves as a sign: "STOP! You have come to the end of summer! Please gather all your beach balls, playful breezes and lazy, hazy days. You must exit the hammock and proceed to the time clock. There is no re-entry.

"But if you are really desperate, you can always look forward to Columbus Day.

"That's pretty desperate."

Yes, Labor Day is simply the embodiment of gloom, which, if you think about it, is actually right there in its name. LABOR Day. Not Day Off Day. Not Sleep Late Day. WORK Day, which is what it's all about until two equinoxes from now, bub.

Even if you barely got a day off all summer, even if the closest you came to a sunbonnet was a do-rag, it was still a different time of year. Lifeguards were on duty. Hot dogs were on sale. Eating ice cream was a right, not a privilege.

Labor Day harbors hints of diets to come, chips to forgo and, for so many parents, lunches to start packing again in bags the color of dead leaves.

Sure, in many ways, parental life is actually easier once the school year begins and the kids are more or less safely ensconced someplace from 9 to 3.

But somehow, just the thought of school starting up again makes plenty of grown-ups feel just as miserable as their soon-to-be-yoked oxen. Er, children.

Just contemplating the ammonia smell of first-day hallways, the stomach churns like an electric pencil sharpener.

Which, by the way, is just one of the 6,423 things you have to buy for "back to school," including more glue sticks than it would take to actually re-cement most schools. And then there are the back-to-school outfits to gather and the back-to-school calendar to contemplate. (Only 36 days to Columbus Day!) And then, before you know it, comes that first fall day that everyone loves to call "crisp."

Sure it's crisp. Like an old stick of gum.

All this — and freezing rain — looms like a mound of mulch in the holiday we celebrate on the first Monday in September. May you have a great one.

Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker and author of the book and blog "Free-Range Kids." To find out more about Lenore Skenazy ( and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



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