Martin Luther King Jr. Day will provide many of us a day off of work on Monday, and if we decide it is so, an opportunity to make a few ripples of good works that would otherwise go undone.
Congress passed legislation in 1994 to make the federal holiday a national day of service, and charged the Corporation for National and Community Service with developing that vision.
That vision has been invigorated in recent years.
I confess, often in the past I've used "MLK Day" as a special three-day birthday weekend booster. It's one of the few bonuses of being born in the deep, dark pit of winter, even if it rotates by every few years.
But I also always set aside some time to think long and hard about why this day is a holiday, and how my life is better because of the painful work done decades before my birth. Access to digital recordings, pictures and texts makes the annual history lesson particularly vivid.
Now that I'm a busy quasi-adult, I realize how special it is to be given not only a day off, but a direct invitation to make a difference with that time.
How many of us want to volunteer here or there, or wash and donate those clothes, or help an older neighbor with that pesky yard, but never quiiiiite find the time? I'll be the first to raise my hand on that one.
The lesson behind transforming this day off into "a day on" is that service can and should become a part of our lives whether it's a Monday, a Tuesday, a holiday or a laundry day.
So even if Monday isn't a day off for you, or the planner is already full (my condolences) thankfully we can take that spirit and celebrate it whenever we can, as often as we can. And that's something that a plain ol' birthday can't hold a candle to.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service opportunities nearby:
More year-round opportunities:
For more information and additional service opportunities throughout the Twin Cities, visit mlkday.gov.