Saturday, August 30, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend has traditionally been one of my busiest weekends. Is that a paradox? I would think the purpose of the holiday is so people like me who have worked the greater part of our lives could relax, picnic, and basically rest on our laurels.

This is family reunion weekend for Jim’s family, my family now. We meet at the biggest shelter at Liberty Park. When I first attended the family reunion, the Fishers played music and sang. People wandered in from all other shelters in the park to listen to the music.

Sometimes we’ve huddled in our coats, and I remember my father-in-law, Bill, building a fire in the fireplace to ward off the chill. We’ve been there in rain, thunder storms, suffocating heat, and once in awhile, absolutely perfect weather.

Jim’s mom, Virginia, used to bake dozens of her delicious light rolls and cook a big pot of beans. We all look forward to Dinah’s chicken and noodles and Ginger’s potato salad. Along with pies, cookies, and brownies, we’ve had birthday and anniversary cakes.

Jim always looked forward to the reunion. We were usually at the park by 9:00 a.m. so he could set up microphones and amplifiers. The last time he went to the reunion, I picked him up at the nursing home. It was not a good day and not a good idea. He became upset and remained that way for days.

The older you get the more bittersweet family reunions become. It’s great to see family you haven’t seen since the last time, but you can’t help but feel sad about the ones who will never be at the Liberty Park reunion again. A new generation has taken over and those of us who have held to the tradition see our grandchildren play on the swings, slides, and merry-go-rounds. Once it was our children. Life goes on and laughter rings out as we celebrate the bond of family.

I wonder if when the younger generation plays music tomorrow I will hear echoes of other reunions. If I think of how Uncle Charles always called me his “sweetie.” Will I hear the ring of horseshoes clanking on the post, and Jim’s laughter as he shares a joke with Uncle Orvie?

When we pack up our Crockpots and pass around goodbye hugs, we are already looking forward to next year, seeing old acquaintances, and greeting new family members. After all, why are we in the labor force, if not for family? So maybe the illogical way to spend the day is in seclusion totally relaxed.

However you spend your Labor Day, I hope it is worthy of a weekend that celebrates a full and productive life. Part of life is work, but the all consuming part of life is family and being with the people you love.

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