It's Labor Day!
For some, Labor Day is a day off to relax, maybe barbecue, and enjoy a day,well, not laboring. For others, it is the last hold on summer before school and commitments kick into high gear. But what is Labor Day supposed to mean? I decided to do a bit of research to find out.
According to the U.S Department of Labor: “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” The first Labor Day celebration was held in 1882 in New York City -- a hub of industry and a shining example of the achievements of the working man. In these early days, the holiday was celebrated with a parade showing off various trades and organizations, followed by a festival for the amusement of the workers being honored. Essentially, the day was built to celebrate the working man and to give him or her a much needed day off to show gratitude for the labor which keeps America running.
Labor Day is a day to say “thank you” to America’s laborers, but how many of us take the time to show our thanks? I recently came across an article by Amy of the blog, Teach Mama, describing how she and her family decided to take their day off and make a difference. Inspired by a show on PBS Kids, she decided to make Labor Day, Neighbor Day-- a day filled with helping those nearby and making their day a little bit brighter. I love this idea, not only because it spreads kindness—something we need more of in this world—but also because it brings us back to the original intention of Labor Day—showing our love and gratitude to those around us.
To help with your Neighbor Day celebration, I have created a list of 11 easy ways to show kindness to those right on your own street:
1. Take over a pretty potted plant for them to enjoy or collect a bouquet from your own garden.
2. Mow your neighbor’s lawn—This is probably one of the kindest things you can do as most people dread this chore. Make sure you ask first, though!
3. Place a kind note in their mailbox. It could be a note of encouragement, a compliment on the house or gardening, or even an invitation to have lunch together sometime.
4. Take in their trash cans. This is a chore I always put off for some reason. If you know your neighbors well enough to know where they store their cans and you know they won’t mind you walking up their drive, take a couple extra minutes to bring them up from the curb.
5. Offer to help carry in groceries.
6. Offer to weed your neighbor’s garden.
7. Smile and say hello! This seems simple, but it’s amazing how such a small act can brighten a day! Check out our post from June about National Smile Power Day to learn how a smile really can make a difference!
8. Collect any litter that has accumulated along your street.
9. Pay one of your neighbor’s utility bills while you are paying yours. This idea came from the blog Mom It Forward and I absolutely love it. You never know when someone may be struggling between keeping the electricity on and buying groceries.
10. Make some cookies and bring them over to your neighbor. Now, this is one that may require some previous interaction with your neighbor. For example, you wouldn’t want to make cookies for a neighbor with diabetes or a nut allergy! If you know the person is lonely, bring some lemonade too and offer to stay and chat.
11. Bring over some good books—what better way to share a piece of your heart? For some books that teach the importance of kindness check out our post In A New Light!
These are just a few ideas to get you started! The great thing about each Neighbor Day activity is that each can be done on any day of the year and by someone of any age! What a great way to teach our children that kindness starts at home.
If these ideas get you energized, consider checking out these organizations for even more inspiration:
Small Acts Big Change- This group was actually started by kids and continues to be run by children today! They operate under the belief that small acts of kindness can cause big change in this world and from the results of their work—they’re right! Right now and through the whole month of September, Small Acts Big Change is hosting an entire month of Random Acts of Kindness. Each day they challenge their followers and themselves to complete a certain kindness challenge. Are you up for the challenge??
RandomActsOfKindness.org- An entire website dedicated to random acts of kindness! Check out the website for kindness ideas, stories, and resources for spreading kindness in your school or workplace.
Let us know in the comments how you plan on celebrating Labor Day—or Neighbor Day—this year!
Our latest release, This is A. Blob, by L.A Kefalos illustrates to children what can happen when bullying, instead of kindness, is let loose on the school playground. Find your copy on Amazon.com or at LaughingLeopardPress.com
“Peace begins with a smile…“-Mother Theresa
A smile can change the world. A bold statement. But time and time again we see smiles crossing borders, crossing cultures, and crossing languages, opening doors that no piece of delegation could ever open. But why? Why is such a simple gesture so powerful? I think it’s because, despite the significant amount of cynicism that runs rampant in our culture (and on our computer screens) there is something pure and simple about a smile that can have a profound impact on the way we feel about ourselves and others. It may sound silly, but a smile really can change the world.
It turns out, there is actually some science behind why exactly we are all so universally affected by a smile. An article in Forbes Magazine argues that the act of smiling can actually raise your endorphin levels, make you feel as good as if you had eaten 2,000 chocolate bars (without the 200,000 calories!) or received $25,000, and--get this-- even lengthen your life. Now there’s something to smile about!
So then, if a smile can be so powerful, why not use it to its full advantage? Luckily, today is (as you may have already guessed!) National Smile Power Day! Figuring that it was time to put all of this research to the test, I decided to make a conscious effort to smile more often throughout the day, especially towards others. I found that, when I smiled, I naturally felt happier. I wanted to act more kindly and think more positively throughout the rest of my day.
It can be so easy to allow negativity to take over and to think the worst of those around us. To assume the guy who cut you off on the highway is just a huge jerk. That the girl who placed a 20 step order in front of you in the coffee line had probably been sent there specifically to ruin YOUR day. But when I made the effort to smile, I found myself thinking better of others. Or, perhaps more importantly, thinking of others at all. How often had I only seen that guy as “traffic guy” and that girl as “coffee diva”, without giving a second thought to who they were? How often had I gone through my day, seeing these people as extras in my one woman show? But the simple act of smiling made me not only take a beat to think of these people as, well, people, but to think of them positively.
And it didn’t just affect my own inner thought process. While I received a confused look or two, most people seemed genuinely pleased that someone acknowledged them in a pleasant way. I noticed that they seemed to take that smile with them, if only for a second. Have you ever seen those commercials where the girl on one side of the screen eats a doughnut for breakfast and the girl on the other side has a Special K bar and the Special K girl decides to take the stairs and eat a salad at lunch while doughnut girl takes the elevator and eats a Big Mac because she made a bad breakfast choice? Though slightly exaggerated, it’s not too far off the mark. One good choice truly does lead to another, including the choice to smile. Imagine the possibilities if everyone I smiled at felt better as a result and passed that positivity on to the next person they saw and the next person. It sounds so simple and really, it is. It is so simple, but so so powerful.
So can a smile end all of our problems? Probably not. But, as Mother Theresa stated, peace BEGINS with a smile, and that means that peace on the playground, in schools, and on the internet can begin with a smile too. Smile at your neighbor, at your boss, at your customers, at your students. Text a smiley face to your friend or post one on your mother’s Facebook page. Encourage your children to smile at the new kid or the crossing guard as they pass by in the morning. I think you will be just as amazed as I was at the results.
I encourage all of you to go out on this day of smiling and give it a try! What’s YOUR favorite way of making the day a little brighter? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! Then send us a picture of your biggest smile on our Twitter or Facebook page along with your stories of how you celebrated National Smile Power Day! Together we can make a huge difference…or at least live longer;)
About Laughing Leopard Press
Hello! We are Laughing Leopard Press, an independent book publisher from Akron, Ohio. At Laughing Leopard Press, we’re interested in publishing works that contribute to our understanding of this wonderful world. Through this blog, we hope to add to that understanding with commentary on life, literature, and a few things in between. We hope you enjoy the blog and take some time to talk with us in the comments or on our social media sites. Happy reading!
This is A. Blob by L. A Kefalos. $14.95
$1.00 is donated to charity for each book sold on this site--half to St. Jude's and the other half to PetFix Northeast Ohio.