After Susan & I married in 2005 we encountered a strange phenomenon of our friends and colleagues enthusiastically asking us if we were looking forward to our first Thanksgiving and Christmas as “a married couple.” In reality the thought hadn’t occured to us, perhaps because we’d spent these holidays together before, or perhaps because we aren’t that hokey. We began telling people that what we really looked forward to was spending Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday together.
Now this is not just a joke. We are both fond of Abraham Lincoln, unquestionably our nation’s greatest president. Also we remember the days when February 12 was celebrated as holiday. I for one recall getting that day off from school. Somewhere along the line, probably because big corporations hate America, Lincoln Day was merged with Washington Day and two very different men are honored by a holiday called Presidents’ Day, even though no such designated holiday officially exists. So it was a good opportunity to give Honest Abe his due and commemorate his day again.
Susan began an Abraham Lincoln Fund, that is collecting all the Lincoln cents we had including those I’d been keeping in a jar since 7th grade. On Lincoln Day we took all these cents down to the Stop & Shop and dumped them into the Coinmaster machine, a long and linty process that amused some of the other store patrons. In total we’s collect 3,407 cents. Susan discovered that Lincoln was fond of cheese and nuts, so with the Lincoln Fund money we both some fine cheeses and nuts and made them the centerpiece of a picnic. We had the picnic inside our living room since it was far too cold and snowy to picnic outside. I also gave Susan some Lincoln Day gifts: The Abraham Lincoln Joke Book which Susan had enjoyed as a child and Sufjan Stevens musical tribute to the Land of Lincoln Come on Feel the Illinoise.
Sadly Susan and I are seperated for our second Lincoln Day as a married couple. Business travel has taken her appropriately enough to Chicago, or more accurately a hotel next to O’Hare Airport. So our Lincoln Day celebration will be deferred to next weekend. We were deligted to learn at Mass that Fr. Dick Sparks, an Illinois native, is also a Lincoln Day afficionado and he included Lincoln in his homily this weekend. The life and inspiration of Lincoln are certainly worth learning and remembering. Last year for Lincoln Day I read the excellent book Lincoln’s Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Shenk. Today I’m going to begin reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
What are you going to do for Abraham Lincoln Day?