Well, here we are.  It’s Labor Day, 2010.  Was it everything you hoped it would be?

It wasn’t for me, largely because I originally thought that Labor Day was yesterday as opposed to today.  My sister Erin informed me of my error on Sunday morning as we drove out to my uncle’s place.  Apparently, Labor Day Weekend is a separate holiday from Labor Day.

Personally, I tend to take my holidays for granted.  It’s rare that I ever give much thought to why we celebrate a holiday.  I just celebrate it.  This is especially true as far as Labor Day is concerned.  Seriously, what the Hell are we celebrating?  I checked on Wikipedia earlier today and, having read the article, I can still say that I have no idea.

The nearest I can figure is that Labor Day is the day when the middle and upper classes honor the lower class by taking a day off work.

Personally, I’ve always found that just the name “Labor Day” brings to mind some dreary state-enforced holiday in some Marxist dictatorship somewhere.  That’s one reason why I always make it a point to observe Labor Day by wearing red underwear.

Both me and Erin have spent this Labor Day at my sister Melissa’s house where we’ve had the honor of babysitting our niece Shannon while Melissa was at work. 

If anyone deserved to have this holiday off, it’s Melissa.  Melissa is a little over four years older than me and she is one of the strongest women I know.  Back when I was just a painfully shy little girl who hid her face behind a mass of red hair and who spoke with a humiliating stutter, Melissa was my protector.  Anyone who so much as even thought about picking on me was running the risk of inviting the wrath of my big sister. 

I remember growing up, I always wanted to be strong and confident like Melissa, even though I would certainly never actually tell her that.  And now, two decades later, Melissa’s is still my hero and my role model.  When I watch her with Shannon, I feel like I understand what it truly means to be a strong woman. 

But still, Melissa — like most Americans who are lucky enough to have a job right now — had to work on the day that is meant to honor her.  Now me, I would have probably thrown one of my patented spoiled-little-brat fits if I had to work today while everyone else got to take off.  And I imagine if I had, Melissa would have been the first person to tell me to knock it off.  I have never heard Melissa complain about having to go to work every day even though I know she’d rather be home with her daughter.  I have never seen Melissa indulge in a single second of self-pity even though I know that she, as a single mother, has to deal with things that I probably can’t even begin to imagine.  When I talk to Melissa, she doesn’t tell me about her daily frustrations or difficulties.  Instead, she tells me how much she loves her daughter.  Well, that and she usually tells me not to stay up so late.  She’s still protecting me and I don’t tell her enough that I love her for that (even if it does drive me crazy at the time).

Out of me and my three sisters, Melissa has always been the one who most resembled our mom.  Melissa’s got mom’s beautiful, dark hair (I used to be so jealous!) and her earthy laugh.  But she got something else too.  Ever since mom left us, I’ve come to realize that Melissa inherited mom’s strength and courage as well.  Though Melissa and I have very different interests (I can spend hours talking about Big Brother and Project Runway whereas Melissa might turn on her TV once or twice a week) and we certainly don’t see eye-to-eye on everything (if you ever see the two of us starting to talk about politics, hide!), she’s still the strong, brave woman that I hope to some day become.

As I sit here in the living room, typing on my laptop, I can here Melissa and Erin setting the kitchen table for dinner.  After we eat, Erin and I have a long drive back to our place.  So, I’m going to go eat with my sisters and then I’m going to hug my niece and say goodbye.

And later tonight, before I go to bed, I’m going to think about how lucky I was to spend today with Melissa, Shannon, and Erin.

For me, that’s what makes this day special.

Happy Labor Day.