What would you think if your boss unexpectedly announced that you’d be getting 100 additional paid vacation days a year?
Surprise! Your boss already has done that. It’s called “the weekend.”
For most of us, those two days are Saturday and Sunday. But even for those who find themselves having to do some work on their weekends it’s important not to take for granted those days’ tremendous value. It’s equal to having another 104 days, or nearly 15 weeks of paid vacation each year.
Like most people, you probably think of those as “your” rightful days off. But properly understood in their historical context, those weekend days were never “our” days to do with as we wished until the mid-20th Century.
To be sure, some people have been taking one day off a week since at least around 3400 years ago. That’s when the prophet Moses received the Ten Commandments, one of which was the charge to remember the Sabbath day and to keep it holy. But the practice did not reach semi-universal status until sometime in the mid-1000s A.D., when Christians began taking Sundays off.
The very first instance of a two-day weekend did not occur until 1908. Owners of a New England mill began closing on Saturdays and Sundays so that all employees could have their day of religious observance off. For the first time everyone got both days off, giving people an unprecedented amount of something new called “leisure time.”
Henry Ford, whose trail-blazing ideas about labor greatly impacted Western business and culture did not begin shutting down his car factories on both Saturdays and Sundays until 1926.
Three years later the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America Union became the first labor organization to include a five-day work week in its contract demands. The standard 40-hour workweek, which makes the two-day weekend possible, did not become law in the United States until 1940, giving formal birth to the modern concept of “the weekend.”
So the question remains, what will you do with your 104 weekend days off a year?
Here are 8 ideas:
1. Drive to a nearby state and explore its charms and delights.
2. Go to the lake. A couple of water mattresses, an old inner tube, and a few Styrofoam “noodles,” plus a tent and a camp stove can turn a cheap get-a-way into a life-long memory.
3. Take an immersion course in something you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it’s a foreign language, or cooking, or a musical instrument, or photography. Just dive in up to your neck.
4. Become a tourist in your own city. Visit the museums. See the sights. Get a tourist brochure and do all the things it suggests out-of-towners do.
5. Get a list of the best day trips from your town (check online travel sites like tripadvisor.com) and explore all the great scenery and marvels within a day’s drive.
6. Visit the mountains nearest you. Take a hike. Pack a lunch. Swim in a cool mountain stream. Marvel at nature.
7. Drive to another town to attend a pro, college, high school or even little league game – or a concert or art exhibition. The “what” matters less than the “go.”
8. Take a 3 day/2 night cruise
Not all weekend “vacations” have to be elaborate, lengthy, or costly affairs. And you don’t have to travel half way around the world to see some amazing things. Nearly all of us live within a short drive of world-class destinations.
And, realistically, you probably can’t take a trip, even a short one, every weekend. Sometimes you have to use a weekend to run errands, work around the house, or pay bills. But my point is that if you begin to look at your weekends as something more than just “days off” you will get to enjoy many, many more great experiences each year- experiences that will create life-long memories and come back to your Monday feeling recharged and ready to go.