PHASE THREE by Arnold Bornstein: Suffering from holiday hang-ups?

Relief of Labor Day clouded by unofficial end to summer

By: Arnold Bornstein
   It seems like it was only a little while ago that summer started, and yet one week from today is getaway day for the long Labor Day weekend.
   The irony of it is that so many people view this holiday weekend as the end of summer: no more going to the beach, school is starting, put away the barbecue stuff, time to shop and do errands for the fall. But if people were eager to think of the Memorial Day weekend as summer’s beginning, even though the season didn’t start until more than three weeks later, then why wouldn’t they be equally as eager to see that summer doesn’t end until nearly three weeks after Labor Day?
   Actually, September is a usually warm month, as is October, although the water temperatures may not be to our liking as time goes by. In any event, both are wonderful outdoor months. Everybody talks about the extra daylight hours, but nobody does anything about it. Every winter we just go back to letting it get dark before 5 PM.
   Could we be suffering from holiday hang-ups?
   In a recent movie, "You, Me and Dupree," Owen Wilson’s character turns down a job during an interview because he would have to work on Columbus Day. If we are in the work force, we feel gypped when a holiday falls on a weekend. Sometimes it seems that we feel that a holiday is just a day off, and the reason for celebrating the day may not appear to be that important.
   Family gatherings are nice, but there could be an issue if you want to relax on the day your family is obligated to be somewhere that will include distant relatives. If you have kids, it could be a bigger chore eating at a crowded fast-food place and then heading to a jammed, kids-screaming matinee movie. You thought you were going to relax on the day off, but there are some jobs around your home that have been put off for too long.
   And don’t overlook the experience of being dragged to a shopping mall during a holiday or day off. I’m retired now — but I’ve been there and I can sympathize. And even though there is the old joke among seniors that every day is a holiday and every night is New Year’s Eve, every day being a holiday leaves you with too much time on your hands.
   In any case, one reason for all this confusion may be the way that things have become mixed up on our calendars, particularly among seniors. Look at sports. Growing up, you associated baseball with summer, but now pro football games begin in the summer, the World Series is played well into autumn and the Devils and the Rangers and the Nets and Knicks start playing before it’s even cold outside.
   Television doesn’t help either. It can be snowing outside while you’re watching them play golf in Florida or California. Which reminds me, if you’re a snowbird who flies to the Sun Belt states for the winter, you can really get confused. What does a "White Christmas" mean in Miami?
   Even the word, holiday, can have different meanings, which can be confusing across cultures. In England, for example, they can use the word to mean vacation. They may say "he will be on holiday," or "she plans to holiday at the seaside." But before you chuckle about English among the English, keep in mind that vacations in Europe and elsewhere in the world are often considerably longer than those in the U.S.
   Do you remember when a two-week vacation was a big deal in your working career? For many, it still is. And what’s wrong with the siesta concept? You know, at least a midday rest, if not a nap. Did you ever notice anybody in your place of employment who had perfected the ability to rest — if not sleep — with their eyes open?
   While you may think that my sensory powers have taken a holiday, please be assured that my sometimes tongue-in-cheek approach is actually aimed at suggesting that we should try to more fully appreciate our holidays and our time off with family and friends or by ourself.
   Doug Larson, an English middle-distance runner who won an Olympics gold medal, once observed: "If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend." Whatever the occasion, have happy holidays all throughout the year!
Arnold Borstein is a resident of Greenbriar at Whittingham in Monroe.