Celebrated: on this day in Virginia, but I'm not sure where else
Kids in Maine went back to school last week, but my nephews and niece in Virginia follow the custom of my own childhood, starting school on the Tuesday after Labor Day. (At least, it was the custom of my childhood; my prep school always started the week before, possibly to differentiate itself and remind the community oh-so-subtly of its higher standards and general superiority.)
The school year traditionally follows the farming year, but even now that children are no longer required to help with the harvest, it makes sense to keep them inside when the days are shorter and the weather's cooler. It follows the natural rhythm of the year in the northern hemisphere, but it helps create that rhythm, too. The day after Labor Day will always feel like the first day of a new year to me, a good time to start new ventures, set goals, get organized and buy school supplies.
I miss school supplies. These days I have little use for more than paper, envelopes and printer cartridges, but I can still stand mesmerized in front of a display of spiral notebooks. I love binders. I own, at last count, three three-hole punches, because I never seem to be able to find one on the rare occasions when I need it.
In middle age, I see the impracticality of Mr. Sketch markers, and wonder where the idea even came from. I've been able to afford my own Mr. Sketch markers for years, but have never bought a set. What would I possibly use them for? Nothing in my life requires any kind of marker, much less the scented ones.
But if I had kids, they'd be going to school today with the 12-pack.