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Labor Day marks the end of summer and the beginning of so much more

August 24, 2011

For years, every Labor Day my family and I, along with other “Cape Codders,” would stand at an overpass over the Mid-Cape Highway and wave goodbye to the tourists in a sea of cars – usually bumper to bumper – making their way home to wherever that was. Although I enjoyed this annual ritual, it was bittersweet for it marked the end of summer and the beginning of school.

While I loved picking out pristine Trapper Keepers and plaid sweaters, I was eagerly energized about the new school year: classes, friends, accomplishments on the courts or playing fields, etc. But after graduation from college, Labor Day – for many people – no longer marks the beginning of something new, but instead becomes the same old same old

But it doesn’t have to be.

In the Jewish religion, our New Year begins in the fall and for me that’s the perfect time for resolutions. The freshness in the air and the changing colors of leaves creates an aura that feels most appropriate for new beginnings. Last year I saw a quote in front of a church that read, “If you fear change, remember how beautiful the fall is.” How true.

My friend Candice has been out of school for years, but was recently overcome by the eye (and wallet!) catching designs of the back-to-school items in CVS. Spending a bundle on matching notebooks and folders, she left the store equally excited about her new purchases and the motivation they gave her to begin organizing her personal and office work. Just because we no longer buy new pants or pens or backpacks, doesn’t mean we cannot get keyed up each September. Without teachers or syllabuses motivating us, the onus must come from ourselves. Have you been wanting to clean out the garage? Start writing (or reading!) a book? Sign up for a cooking class? Lose a few pounds? Buy a bicycle? Fall is the perfect occasion to do so, as we’ve been branded from youth that when there’s crispness in the air, our productivity has got to step up.

I’m headed back to Cape Cod for one last week before Labor Day. I’ve got my To Do list (mostly things I didn’t get done this summer) and am eager to cross everything off it, my motivation stemming from the realization I only have seven days left until Labor Day when there will be a new list of things to do. And at the end of my visit when I head back to New York City, the cooler air marking a fresh start, I will look forward to waving back. Even though this time it will be to the locals.

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