Saturday, September 3, 2011

Labor of Love

Labor Day is coming! As a youngster I enjoyed the last holiday weekend of the summer. It meant potluck picnic-time at Duke and Velva's rambling log house in Estacada, a sleepy town just east of Portland. Velva, my grandma’s niece, was the most interesting lady I had ever met; in my child mind, she was unparalleled. She had flaming red hair, an exuberant personality, and would scoop me up and say, "Well here you are, Donelle! You've grown so much, hardly recognized you!" Velva hosted a mouthwatering spread of food that guaranteed an afternoon nap in the hammock or under a tree if you ate too much. But I couldn't help myself and ate one too many pieces of Grandma’s pie and Velva’s fried chicken, as well as an extra helping of Mom’s famous potato salad. Good times.

Labor Day was officially the end of summer vacation; school started the next day. Between bites of lunch and races with the cousins, as we hid from each other in the dense forest and behind the barn or woodshed just beyond the yard, thoughts of the first day of school would crop up. Nervous butterflies took flight and collided with the lunch in my full tummy as I thought about the next day; what teacher would I have? Would it be the dreaded Dragon Lady? Would my best friends, Linda and Kathy, be in my room? Would the cool kids and the cutest guys be in my class? Important stuff for a kid of any age. It would be a long school year.

Labor Day means as much to me today, but in a different way. I can savor the good times of the yesterdays and remember our beloved relatives who have passed on. Gone are the "first day of school" jitters, but they have been replaced with new feelings. Today, I treasure our family: grown kids and their children, and anticipate our grandson who will join us in February. This weekend promises to be chock full of new memories. and I will enjoy every moment of summer's last hurrah. Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend.

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