Warning: array_slice() expects parameter 1 to be array, boolean given in /home/uvatha/public_html/kayhoflander/wp-content/plugins/my-twitter-widget/widget.php on line 164

Warning: key() expects parameter 1 to be array, null given in /home/uvatha/public_html/kayhoflander/wp-content/plugins/my-twitter-widget/widget.php on line 164

Tag Archive: February

Feb 17

On Presidents Day, two still tug at our hearts

“Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”—George Washington

On Presidents Day, two presidents still tug at our hearts; it is almost romantic.

George Washington and Abraham Lincoln remain as respected and revered today as they did before they entered office. I guess you could say America is in love with them.

And, their reputations do not tarnish.

I say this despite the fact that Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter in 1976 that “No man will ever bring out of the Presidency the reputation which carries him into it.”

These two former presidents did.

If this were a question on Family Feud, the survey would say George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are inarguably the most venerated of presidents and continue to hold our high esteem.

In fact, Washington and Lincoln were so revered when I was a child that schools honored their birthdays on two separate occasions, one for each president.

Things were different before 1971, the year that Presidents Day became a federal holiday. Schools and banks did not close prior to that, and the post office delivered mail.

The president in 1971 was President Richard M. Nixon who issued a proclamation stating that the third Monday of February would honor all past presidents of the United States.

There was a glitch, however.

A federal statue was already on the books designating that day as Washington’s birthday, and a presidential proclamation, although weighty, was not the same as an executive order.

No one split hairs, and eventually the holiday simply came into being. Thereafter, Presidents Day became the term commonly used.

But long before the federal holiday was proclaimed, the country celebrated Lincoln’s birthday on February 12th , his actual birthday, and Washington’s on his, February 22nd.

Their birthdays were met with great fanfare in most elementary schools and featured elaborate classroom decorations, the singing of patriotic songs, the telling of legendary stories, the recitation of poems and the consumption of yummy cupcakes with white icing and red sprinkles.

We imagined Lincoln living in a log cabin and learning to read by candlelight and Washington chopping down a cherry tree and never telling a lie.

Yes, I suppose one could indeed call it romantic.

Our school celebrations were not quite as exciting as on Valentine’s Day, however, but they were close.

Pupils cut out head-size construction-paper silhouettes of Washington and Lincoln. The artwork, usually on white or black paper, was then pasted onto red paper or white doilies with messy white paste from a jar. The presidential likenesses were hung on classroom walls just above the blackboards.

It occurs to me that the reason schools made such a big deal over Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays had a lot to do with teaching about character and reputation.

Washington and Lincoln did not waiver. They were principled, rock-solid individuals with unshaken courage, strength and determination.

Charles Francis Adams noted about George Washington, “More than all, and above all, Washington was a master of himself.”

And of Abraham Lincoln, David Lloyd George observed, “If you look at his portraits they always give you an indelible impression of his great height. So does his life. Height of purpose, height of ideal, height of character, height of intelligence.”

As we prepare to officially honor all presidents on the third Monday of February, it is just fine with me that Washington and Lincoln still tug at our hearts. It is for a good reason.

Feb 08

February is the shortest month of the year for a reason

For the past week I have been trying to think of something funny and happy to write about, but I just can’t do it. It is February after all, possibly the most depressing month of the year.

Why? The signs are everywhere.

Let us start early in the month with Groundhog Day. Talk about depressing. Who came up with this genius plan to give a rodent such authority to force us into six more weeks of winter just because he sees his shadow?

Next, there is the unhappy fact that sports lull in February. No more college bowl games. No more Super Bowl. Football season is completely and finitely over. Period. The end. We are still weeks away from March Madness. Spring baseball training and opening day are nowhere in sight. It is a veritable sports black hole.

The Chinese New Year arrives in February on the blackest day of the month, the new moon. To top that off, 2008 is the “Year of the Rat” in Chinese Astrology. No matter how much I read that rats are symbols of prosperity and wealth, I am having trouble with the mental picture of a rat. Ok, sure last year was the Year of the Pig, and it wasn’t too bad. How bad can the Year of the Rat be? Don’t answer that.

I remember January fondly when all the stores had huge sales making it a great month to shop. In February, on the other hand, stores are debuting their new spring lines. I am really not at all interested in buying yellow Capri pants and a straw handbag when I am still trying to scrape the sleet off my car. Drat that groundhog anyway. By the way, I will not even broach the subject of bathing suits, already in the stores, so as to not send any dieting woman into a complete and dark funk. Shopping is out of the question.

What is next on the February calendar? A pressure-filled Valentine’s Day that is what. It is just as depressing as Groundhog Day and the Chinese New Year. No matter how many Valentine’s Days one has been through how can one possibly live up to its expectations. And what mass conspiracy decided to raise the price of roses five times the normal cost?

On the bright side on Valentine’s Day one can joyously accept boxes of chocolate. Wait! No we can’t. Remember those bathing suits in the department stores.

This is about the time of year when New Year’s resolutions are breaking down if they have not already.

It is tax time. Christmas decorations are still not completely stored away. The garage is full of sand and street dirt.

Simply put, February is no fun at all.

What is this I see on the calendar? Horror of horrors, it is Leap Year giving us one more day in February.

I feel just like Charlie Brown when Lucy pulls the football away just as he is about to kick it. Arrgh!