Monday, February 21, 2011

President's Day = Skiing in Taos!

Many of us are familiar with the parable of the six blind men and the elephant:

Once upon a time, there lived in one village six blind men. One day some neighbors told them there was an elephant in the village. They had no idea what an elephant was, so they decided to go "see" it. The men surrounded the elephant, each of them touching a different part of the animal.

"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.

"Oh, no! It is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.

"Oh, no! It is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.

"It is like a big hand fan," said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.

"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.

"It is like a solid pipe," said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.

When I was a kid, we celebrated Lincoln's Birthday on February 12th, and Washington's Birthday on February 22nd. In 1968, Congress decided all federal holidays should fall on a Monday, at which point they proceeded to discombobulate most everyone's ability to remember when national holidays took place, and in many cases, what they were. To top it off, they couldn't actually decide what the official name of the third Monday in February should be, so after much hemming and hawing that it should probably be Washington's Birthday, they never actually named the day. This left the naming and the celebrating of the day up to the individual states, causing it to be called Washington's Birthday in some states, and Presidents Day in others.

So if we imagine the six blind men could "see" this day from different places and different perspectives, here is what they might say:

"Hey, this day is George Washington Day, honoring the first president of the United States," said the first man, who was in Virginia.

"Oh, no! It is Washington's Birthday, commemorating the birth of the first president of the United States," said the second man, who was in Massachusetts.

"Oh, no! It is Washington and Jefferson Day, honoring the two founding fathers," said the third man who was in Alabama.

"It is Presidents Day, as well as a combination of Washington and Lincoln's Birthday," said the fourth man who had spoken with a number of average Americans in several states.

"It is Presidents Day, and is meant to honor all Presidents," said the fifth man who had spoken with another group of Americans in a different state.

"It is a holiday created by merchants so they can hold big sales every year," said the sixth man who had read a number of newspapers in braille.

Here in Taos, I don't think too many people pay much attention to what the actual name of the day is. Many people here, and those who make there way here for the third week in February have one thing, and one thing only, in mind. They are grateful to whichever Presidents may be responsible for a special long weekend of skiing! ~Aimee

* * * * * * 

I found Aimee’s story to be funny, yet sad, when I think about some of the changes that have come about in our culture in regard to preserving history for future generations. This morning, I was glad to see that the History channel has devoted its whole day of programming to President-related shows. I’ll be spending the day recording some of those programs, but again, I find it funny that they chose a special on Thomas Jefferson, instead of airing programs about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the two Presidents whose birthdays are being remembered on this day.

But, hey, beggars can’t be choosers. I’m glad the channel had the decency to honor the day at all! (I also noticed that the Bing search engine has a beautiful photo of the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument on its main page, while Google didn’t change its logo at all for this special day.)

And last, but not least, to those who came to visit Taos over this holiday weekend ... Happy Skiing! And to everyone ... Happy President's Day! ~Jean

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