GratiTuesday: Post Labor Days

My husband and I went to a neighbor’s Labor Day party yesterday. There were about 25 people in attendance and, by my count, over half of us were no longer working at a regular, full-time job. Some of us are officially retired (as in no longer receiving a regular paycheck) and some are involved in a few part-time, money-making ventures out of want, not need (which still qualifies as “retired” in my book).

I remember when Labor Day felt like a final hurrah before summer bid adieu. Even though the weather might still say “summer,” school and work told us different. The Labor Day parties were always fun but bitter sweet. We enjoyed the company of our friends, but we also knew that it was probably the end of outdoor gatherings for a while.

Now that we are retired, Labor Day feels more like a beginning than an end. From now on, the roads will be a little less crowded, the beaches more accessible, and businesses less busy. Just like before, the weather will still say “summer” but there will be fewer people competing for space to enjoy it.

In addition to the joy of dwindling crowds where we live, we can also take advantage of fewer crowds when we travel. What are called “shoulder seasons” – typically spring and fall – are prime travel times for those of us who no longer live by someone else’s schedule. The weather is often still nice, but the crowds are lighter and the prices cheaper.

We still have a lot of summer left and the time to enjoy every moment.

Last night at the party, the conversations we had with our neighbors and fellow retirees were full of stories of how we spent our summer and how we were planning to embrace the months ahead. We talked excitedly about travel plans we’ve made and interests we wanted to pursue, about projects we planned to work on and events we hoped to attend. What there wasn’t was any talk about school schedules, work piling up, or the end of another summer… and I think we were all grateful for that.

Author: Janis @

My blog is about travel, relationships, photography, and whatever else pops into my head (even, sometimes, issues surrounding retirement and aging).

67 thoughts on “GratiTuesday: Post Labor Days”

  1. how nice to be in this season of life and I never heard of shoulder seasons –
    but I can relate because for decades my spouse and I have have weekdays as our weekends and so we know the less crowded weekdays give us space and breathing room. How nice that you get to enjoy this in your travels as a retired free bird.


    and love that water shot with the skyline in back….

    1. Like many retirees, we avoid going out on weekends, preferring to stay home while the crowds are out. Now that the kids are back in school, it gives us a lot more breathing room. That shot was from a very fun day out on the water (it’s great to know people who own boats 🙂 ).

  2. I agree that shoulder seasons are great for travel. I’m grateful to think about fun activities in September, too, like the Toronto International Film Festival in the next 10-12 days!

  3. Hi, Janis – I loved my career in education. At the beginning of each September, I always came down with “Labour Day Syndrome” — that dreaded feeling in my stomach that warmth and freedom were about to end!
    I also attended a small gathering yesterday (with several retired teachers). There was no talk of school, work schedules or vacation ending. Like you, I was incredibly grateful!
    Excellent post!

  4. It really is a good feeling, the stores are less crowded, the trails are less crowded. Next year my husband will be retired too and I look forward to being able to travel to places “off season.”

  5. As a fellow retiree I share your sentiments about Labour Day being for us the beginning of new adventures. Often we are blessed with an Indian summer lasting sometimes into October. Also the temperatures are ideal for travelling, cool at night for a good restful sleep and just right during the daytime. Have a relaxing shoulder season! Peter

    1. Warm weather usually sticks around here for a while too so many of us who live here consider September the start of our “real” summer. I hope you have some plans to enjoy your shoulder season… maybe some travel?

  6. Growing up, we always went back to school after Labor Day, so it wasn’t always my favorite holiday even though there was a sense of excitement with the new school year. These days, since I’m not retired, Labor Day is a much appreciated day off. Now…counting down until Veteran’s Day. 🙂

    1. As much as I liked my job (well, mostly), I remember looking at the calendar and counting the days until the next three-day weekend. Now, I am especially appreciative of work days (sorry) when there are fewer people out and about.

  7. You’ve given me a new perspective, Janis, by saying working out of want, not need, still qualifies as retired. I am working two days per week because I want to, and have been agonizing over the decision of when to retire. Turns out I already am! And having five days off each week gives me the flexibility you are describing in your post today. What a great life we have!

    1. I really think that when working is a positive choice you make, you can consider yourself retired. After all, what is retirement except the freedom to choose how to spend your time? We do have a great life and I am grateful for it every day!

  8. Enjoy the “shoulder season” (I never heard that expression). I hope you have some good plans.

    I’ve got one more Labor Day to celebrate as a working slob.

  9. Amen. 🙂 It means the same for us plus we can go back to our favorite restaurants which we have avoided since Memorial Day because of the tourists. But, we have to be quick because the leaf peepers will be here in about six weeks. 🙂

    1. I was one of those leaf peepers many years ago – what a beautiful area you live in! Although we don’t get the change of seasons (at least that you’d notice) here, we do get our share of snowbirds escaping the winter cold.

  10. Hi Janis! I think we should propose BEYOND-Labor Day! (I hope that doesn’t sound disrespectful because I do honor those who work and contribute to their families and society!) BUT, for those of us who march to a different drummer, either retired or semi-retired as I like to call myself, I think BEYOND-Labor Day has a happy ring to it for all the reasons you state. Yay to off & shoulder seasons no matter where you are.

    As you know, Thom and I are in Ajijic Mexico and surprisingly, this is their off-season. That makes it perfect for us “sun-birds” (those who escape the heat in the summer rather than cold in the winter). It has been wonderful because to us the weather here is awesome and according to the locals, the traffic and the tourists are much less. As you say, it is a perfect time to enjoy outdoors and all the amenities of an area. ~Kathy

    1. When we were in San Miguel, it was considered their off-season too (which made me wonder just how crowded it gets in their on-season!). How lucky are we that we can choose when to travel! I’m looking forward to hearing more about your adventure!

  11. That’s what I love about not being a school teacher and not having school aged children any more Janis – the school holidays (peak times) have no impact on my holiday choices and I don’t have to organize anything around other people’s timetables any more. I love working part-time and having a self-employed husband! Retirement will be even sweeter. #MLSTL 🙂

    1. I’m sure you will love retirement, Leanne! The only way that I am impacted by a school schedule anymore is because we live down the street from a high school and I prefer to avoid both the start and stop times if I have to drive by it 🙂

  12. Since I never had children, I always travels in the “shoulder” season. Best for beach vacations too! Oddly, I attended a Labor Day picnic and there were two teachers so there was a lot of talk about school. Fortunately, I moved over to the retirees group to chat.

  13. I was so happy when my children were out of school and we were no longer a slave to their schedules. It’s so lovely being able to travel when people are working, and the kids are in school.

    The image is lovely! I love the light at that time of day.

  14. So true that Labor Day seems to mark the start of being able to enjoy beaches without the heavy crowds. The air and water are still warm! In fact I went swimming last year on the very last day of September and it was lovely!

  15. It is nice to have reached the stage where Labor Day is no longer bittersweet, isn’t it? Like you, my husband and I prefer to travel during the “shoulder seasons” for exactly the same reasons. And since it’s hot, humid and sunny today, I don’t feel as if I’m saying goodby to summer at all!

  16. I love the term, “shoulder season”. Seems an apt description for a time when your attention is split between two seasons. Like you, I’m sort of relieved when fall comes around—we live in an intense tourist area, so the change is welcome!

    1. As much as I appreciate that tourism is a big part of our economy, I love when they have to go home 🙂 Now, we have “our” beaches to ourselves again and we can find parking at the more popular attractions. Of course, I will soon be a tourist in someone else’s town so I hope they accept and welcome us!

  17. I like how you put Labor Day as a beginning. That’s exactly how I view it too. We too live in a tourist city, and already I’m seeing a noticeable drop in traffic on the roads and at certain restaurants. As much as I appreciate the boon they provide to the local economy, it’s nice to have a breather. I love fall. – Marty

    1. I think anyone who lives in a touristy area can understand that: it’s great that they boost our economy but it is also nice when they go home. Although we don’t get the fall colors (and I doubt that you do either), it is definitely the season I look forward to.

  18. I’ve always thought Labor Day was a fitting end to the summer, loving that end feeling and the start of a new semester. As a kid I couldn’t wait until school started, and now as a teacher, I still look forward to the Fall semester. When I worked my park and rec career, I awaited joyfully for Labor Day because that also signalled the end to the crazy summers overseeing 20 swimming pools and 150 staff! Enjoy the peace and quiet as SD gets back to normal 😊

    1. I don’t remember not being able to wait for school to start but, by that time, I was kind of over summer fun. I needed some structure (although I probably wouldn’t have called it that… just “something to do.”). Now, I love not having structure given to me… I can find my own, or not. Have a great fall, Terri!

  19. You give the rest of us something to look forward to down the line. I usually feel sad at Labor Day too as suddenly we all seem to throw away the carefree moments of Summer and begin to hunker down in earnest as Falls looms in the background. At least you’ve got the year ’round warmth and that is a plus in my book.

      1. That’s true Janis, but the lack of snow is a real draw for me, that’s for sure. We do have the lovely fall colors and this year, since we had such a hot summer, and actually had drought-like conditions for four weeks in July, our fall colors are arriving about two weeks earlier than usual. The leaves are everywhere – this amount of leaves that are already red, yellow or orange doesn’t usually happen until late September.

  20. You really hit home with this one, Janis. Because August is “vacation month” for most Europeans, our recent travels in Spain have been over-crowded with tourists. We knew that this would be the case beforehand, and have really welcomed September 1st this year. As of this week, the crowds are much more manageable and the weather has even cooled off a bit.

  21. I’m right there with you, now that we are empty nesters and almost retired working at 15 hours a week on a flex schedule, it’s a great time to hit the road. I look forward to hearing about some of your adventures

  22. Since I’ve never been bound by the school year (not a teacher, no kids), we’ve always done our vacationing on shoulder periods. And it continues – We’re heading to Florida this month as it’s a favorite time down there. Great weather and no crowds – kids back to school and snow-birds not yet arriving.

    I still view Labor Day as the ‘end of summer’…although Mother Nature certainly doesn’t. We’ve had some of the hottest days so far this past week. Interestingly , our Labor Day gathering was a mix of working and retired, but no back-to-school talk. The teachers in our group were among the retired! Conversation was more about life, recent travels, shorter days, and planned fall activities.

    1. Your Labor Day gathering conversations sounded much like ours. I love talking about our various adventures (past and future) and the positive happenings in our lives.

      Enjoy your time in Florida! You will be there during the seasonal sweet spot… I bet the water is nice and warm too!

  23. We don’t have Labor Day, but there is a holiday at the end of September after which the bulk of our students came back (some started in August). So it was the start of a busy term and the last long weekend before Christmas: I guess it had the same sort of feeling. Now I barely notice it!

    1. You are right, if our neighbors didn’t have a party, it would have been just another day. With so many of us retired (including the hosts), it’s basically an excuse to get together… not that we need much of one.

  24. Hi Janis
    I love this time of the year. Everything seems to slow down. The changing season reflects the less crowded tourist areas, the hustle and bustle of day to day has slowed too. Time to catch our breath.
    Happy Fall

    1. Even though there isn’t a big change in my life going from pre-Labor Day to post Labor Day, there does seem to be a shift in attitude… and I like it! Enjoy your end of summer (we still have a few days!) and the slow transition into fall.

  25. Definitely something to be grateful for – less crowds, better access, and no work! Labor Day and seasonal milestones such as Labor Day are pretty meaningless on the high seas. We certainly want to be st the right latitude ar the right time of year, but otherwise, it’s kind of endless summer for us. And for that, I am extremely grateful.

  26. I love your observation and I think you’re right! I don’t now why it hasn’t hit me the same way, quite frankly. I think after so many years of experiencing Labor Day as an “end to summer” I just haven’t yet shifted my perspective but I will now! LOL!

  27. We are feeling a definite nip in the air most mornings, leaves are turning colour, and we’re finally getting a bit of rain. These aren’t the biggest signs of fall, however. For those of us who live in “cottage country,” this time of year means that people are going back to school or work after summer vacations, and cottagers are returning to their homes. As they pack up and leave our little village, we let out sighs of relief. Along with flocks of migrating birds, sweaters coming out of storage, and leaves falling to the ground, we have a bit of peace and quiet. Ahhhh…

    1. What a nice transition into fall! The great thing about being retired is that when others have to leave to go home (school, jobs, etc.) we get to visit areas like you’ve described (I love the term “cottage country”) when they are at their peak of beauty.

  28. As I used to work in post-secondary education, Labour Day was always a rather anxious time; my experience was similar to what Donna described. It was the last chance to finish planning and prepare for the very busy first week of school. I don’t miss that at all, and it gives September a whole different feel.


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