I’ve heard this statement many times since retiring. It’s not quite true, because there are still chores to be done, errands to run, groceries to buy; however, you don’t have to go to work before or after completing those tasks. What I have found to be true, is that the lesser holidays, i.e. Memorial Day and Labor Day, are less distinguishable in retirement than they were when working. I experienced this retirement-induced mental fog while celebrating Labor Day earlier this week.
I awoke early on Monday and decided that I would get dressed, go buy flowers, and visit the cemetery early to avoid the crowds… the crowds that visit cemeteries… on Labor Day. There were many indications that I had my warm-weather, Monday holidays confused, but I missed them ALL. The first was when I was purchasing two large bouquets of flowers. I told the checker that I was happy that the available bouquets were so pretty and that all of the nice ones had not already been purchased, and that I would head to the cemetery after leaving the store. She responded, with what I interpreted as a dirty look. More likely it was fear as she questioned her safety while interacting with an obviously mentally-ill shopper. I decided that she was lacking respect for the dearly departed as I traipsed from the store feeling morally superior.
I arrived at the cemetery at approximately 9 a.m. I was surprised to find that I was the only one there, which contributed to my attitude of moral superiority to the other family-members of the cemetery’s interred. The cemetery houses many generations of my family, so as I walked across the expanse from grave to grave, depositing flowers at each, I wondered where the Boy and Girl Scouts were, who typically place flags on the graves of Veterans. I asked myself, what is this Country coming to? After departing the cemetery, with each of my family member’s grave adorned with flowers, in stark contrast to others, I was elated by my superior stewardship of my ancestor’s final resting spots. I stopped by the grocery store to pick up some avocados, and the produce man asked what my plans were for the rest of the holiday. I proudly told him that I had already been to the cemetery, so I thought I would catch a movie. He smiled at me with an, “Oh, she’s one of those,” smiles. I headed home in my continued state of holiday disorientation. It felt good.
That afternoon I went to a movie (“Rocketman” – I feel bad for poor Elton John and if he were dead and in my family, I definitely would have put flowers on his grave earlier that day) with a dear friend. On the way to the movie, she asked what I had done that morning, and I, with false-modesty, told her that I had spent the morning distributing flowers at the cemetery, and was surprised that there weren’t more people there. She smiled at me, with a smile much like that of the produce man. She’s a very kind, dear friend.
As I was getting ready for bed Monday night, it struck me; hey, this is Labor Day, not Memorial Day. Why it did not hit me until then, I don’t know. While not every day is a holiday during retirement, for me many holidays are interchangeable during retirement.