Monday, February 15, 2010

Missing George and Abe

I think Presidents Day is stupid. I say this, even though I have today off. Honestly, I do not feel the need to honor all U.S. Presidents today or any other day. But I suppose if we have a Secretaries Day (oops, I mean, Administrative Professionals Day), we have to have a Presidents Day.

It was not always thus. In the olden days we only celebrated two presidents and both holidays were in February: Lincoln's Birthday (Feb. 12) and George Washington's Birthday (Feb. 22). I think only government people got the Lincoln and Washington holidays. Were the banks and post offices closed? I seem to remember they were.

Dreary, short February had three - count 'em - three holidays (adding in Valentine's Day) to break up the gloom. And all three were perfect for school children. Lots of arts and crafts projects, plus historical context, of course.

Depending on what grade you were in, Lincoln's Birthday involved building log cabins out of Lincoln Logs or rolled-up brown construction paper, making stove-top hats, and memorizing The Gettysburg Address. (Is that even required in schools anymore? Sigh.) Even in the South, we understood Lincoln's importance to our history.

For some reason, all I remember about Washington's Birthday is cherry-vanilla ice cream. Seems it wasn't available all year, like Girl Scout Cookies. Just in February for old George. Don't care if the "I cannot tell a lie" cherry tree story is a myth, it was good enough to break out the cherry-vanilla ice cream once a year.

But now? Nothing. Honestly, what is anybody going to do to honor all U.S. Presidents today? Hm? What? I plan to sleep in and take a long walk. No one cares. Instead of donning a home-made stove top hat and reciting the Gettysburg address in commemoration of one great president and eating cherry-vanilla ice cream in honor of another, we'll just go on about out lives tomorrow.

So I propose we cancel Presidents Day from, well OK, Tuesday forward (might as well take the holiday I'm given, eh?) and go back to holding up Abe and George as the guys who set the standard. George, for not being an egotistical, power-monger and selflessly refusing to become king or serve as president for life (and his Farewell Address is pretty snappy, too - beware of foreign entanglements, indeed). Abe, for his good humor, brilliant brevity of speechwriting, handling that Civil War unpleasantness as best as humanly possible, reading by candlelight as a boy, and putting up with Mary Todd Lincoln.

And I want my cherry-vanilla ice cream!

Happy weird Monday-Holiday-in-Mid-February-to-Celebrate-Fillmore-Hayes-Harrison-etc.


PT said...

We don't usually celebrate Presidents' Day over here, but, by sheer coincidence, I am growing a long scraggly beard in honour of Rutherford B. Hayes.

MaryB said...

Oooh, PT, I'm all a-swoon!

Jeffri Harre said...

We didn't have Lincoln Logs, though my cousins did. Wish I had a picture of the attempt to build a log cabin with Legos!

MaryB said...

Jeffri - not quite the same is it? And it's hard to find real wood Lincoln logs these days. We created quite a few splendiferous log cabins back in the day. More like the current trendy log mtn. homes instead of the humble Abe types.

Emily said...

I heard the other day the reason we now in the modern times have a presidents day, IS the ski lobby association lobbied congress for a holiday in order to have a holiday where everyone went skiing. UGH sounds like congress..
Don't know if its true ... I don't remember any celebration other than Lincoln and the Gettysburg address...

MaryB said...

Em - that sounds about right. Folks love their 3-day weekends! (Do people even have the money to go skiing these days?)

Jeffri Harre said...

When I was a kid one of the two would fall during winter break and then we'd have the other off whenever it fell.