In the distant, early days of Homo sapiens, there was no concept of “work” in the modern sense, and thus there were no holidays, either. Every day involved its many toils, from hunting and gathering to working to find shelter and water and protection against predators.
Then, as civilization developed, designated jobs became an inevitable part of the process. No city could exist without people charged with performing essential functions like laboring in the fields to bring in the crops, delivering food from the countryside, serving as scribe for Pharoah, or building the new pyramid or ziggurat. The concept of holidays came later still. First, there were only religious holidays or seasonal holidays, to mark the Feast Day of Set or commemorate the harvest with a day of celebration. In the medieval era, when a saint’s day arrived, the duties of the job were replaced by lengthy religious obligations and, perhaps, fasting and the ritual wearing of a hair shirt. It wasn’t exactly a laugh riot.
As humanity advanced even more, the concept of a work week was introduced and, then, secular holidays. When some brilliant soul realized that secular holidays really didn’t have to be tied to a specific date on the calendar and instead could float — so that the holiday could combine with a normal weekend to create a three-day weekend — it was a huge step forward in human development. And when an even more enlightened individual realized that we could use those three-day weekends to bookend the summer months, so that the joys of summer could begin with a glorious three-day revel in the warmth, it marked a true pinnacle in the annals of human achievement.
As we celebrate the joys of this three-day Memorial Day weekend, let’s remember those forgotten figures of human history who came up with the ideas that led us here — and be grateful that wearing sweaty hair shirts isn’t part of the equation.
Every job has its own rhythms, peaks and valleys. In the retail industry, the holiday season is the crunch time. Lifeguards are swamped between Memorial Day and Labor Day, accountants get killed in the weeks leading up to April 15, and ski instructors are snowed under when January and February roll around.
In the law business, too, different practices have different busy and slack periods. The fine folks in the transactional and tax areas get crushed at the end of the year, as clients rush to complete deals or restructurings before their accounting period closes. For litigators, there seems to be no set peaks and valleys during the practice year. It’s more of a crap shoot. Sometimes the new year starts with a rush, sometimes the spring is when all of the work forces seem to come together, and sometimes judges will schedule things between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve in hopes of strongly encouraging parties to voluntarily resolve their disputes.
Whatever your job, when you are really busting it you look forward to the next three-day weekend as if it were your own personal road to salvation. And if the Fourth of July is the holiday that might break up that period where you are buried, you hope like hell that this isn’t one of those years when Independence Day falls on a freaking Wednesday. Because while there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a day off in the middle of the work week, we know that a sterile, non-working Wednesday just doesn’t play the same sweet personal music as the full, complete, party-Thursday-night/sleep-in-on-Friday three-day weekend.
I’m happy to report that this year the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday, which means that we’ve got one of those official three-day weekends just around the corner. It’s darned good timing in my book.
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning in New Albany, smack dab in the middle of a glorious three-day weekend. As we contemplate what to do with all of this fabulous free time on a beautiful day, we’re like the traveler trying to decide which path and fence line to follow.
Me? After taking care of some work, I think there’s grilling and a craft beer in my future.
The work week is done, and the three-day weekend is almost begun.
Is there any better feeling than to be on the cusp of a three-day holiday weekend? Particularly when the three-day holiday weekend is Memorial Day, which means that summer is here? Even more particularly when there is almost nothing scheduled for the weekend except golf and get-togethers with old friends? And, most particularly of all, when the weather is supposed to be sunny and hot, well-suited to grilling and chilling?
The fabulous thing about the cusp of a three-day weekend is the enormous sense of possibility. The three days yawn before us, ready to be filled however we desire. Perhaps tomorrow morning we’ll do some outdoor reading, before it gets too warm. Or we might stretch out on the outdoor lounge chair, listen to the birds, and doze in the shade of a tree. Some time on the practice range might be in order, and staying up later than normal to watch movies sounds like fun. The options are virtually limitless.
The three-day Memorial Day weekend is one of the greatest American inventions.