Conversely, most of us who still have jobs in the private sector can look forward to a long slog of five-day workweeks once January 3rd arrives as the next paid holiday off in the business world generally doesn’t occur until Memorial Day. Perhaps it’s good to get back into a routine after the hustle and bustle of our holiday season, but those who work on our taxpaying dime get a few more breaks before their grind sets in.
Yet making our holiday observances more convenient for federal workers, the travel industry, and retailers also makes them seem more trite. Some of us in the hinterlands have become a little annoyed that honoring the birth of one of our nation’s founders is an excuse for retailers to have a weekend sale – then again, one also has to ask why these retailers are so politically correct that they don’t push bargain prices for the birthday weekend honoring Dr. Martin Luther King.
Granted, even back in the radical era of the early 1970s there was still enough common sense to maintain the dates celebrating our nation’s independence and for giving thanks, and federal workers seem none the worse for wear when July 4th falls in the middle of the week or after the traditional Thursday celebration of Thanksgiving. (Of course, in 2011 July 4th happens to be a Monday as well.) Even after federal holidays were streamlined in 1971, the outcry of veterans and traditionalists was enough to shift Veterans Day back to its rightful place on the calendar as the eleventh day of the eleventh month just a few years later.
So what would be wrong with restoring the observance of remaining federal holidays to their rightful places? After all, there’s better than a 50 percent chance that either the holiday will fall on a Friday or Monday – to naturally create a three-day weekend – or the present holiday policy for dates falling on a Saturday or Sunday would apply. (In 2011, observing traditional dates would only change two of the ten federally observed holidays back to the middle of the week – the Tuesday of Washington’s Birthday and Wednesday for Columbus Day. All others would be celebrated on a Monday or a Friday.)
While it may be a stretch to consider the idea of going retro on federal holiday observances as a return to a limited, Constitutional government – particularly since our founding fathers only saw the need for the occasional day of thanksgiving – there’s nothing wrong with restoring the traditional reverence for particular days on the calendar even if it does screw up the sacred three-day weekend. Federal employees who are skiers and shoppers can live like the rest of us and take one of their plentiful vacation days if a long weekend is that important to them.
It may be a symbolic gesture at best, but if we’re serious about trimming the size of government this may be a step toward once again familiarizing federal employees with the concept of how the rest of us in the private sector work.