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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February 14...

The real Dapper and
Dreamy couple.
I am afraid that I am not among the legions of men waiting in line to buy roses or boxes of candy, today.  It's nothing personal against my dreamy wife, we just aren't really Valentine's Day people.  We're in love every day and love to do things for each other all the time, so the "big day" just isn't that exciting for us.  Like Mother's Day and Father's Day, it sometimes seems a little manufactured and pressure never did make for real romance.  Feeling that you must be thoughtful and romantic makes it virtually impossible to be so... and isn't one of the biggest parts of thoughtfulness and romance the spontaneity of it?

Like most holidays, we like the fun of getting ready, but the day itself isn't the exciting part.  There are things that we do like about Valentine's Day, however...  we are not completely unromantic!  Heart-shaped sugar cookies with pink and red icing, Reese's peanut butter hearts, homemade Valentine's and some favorite old romantic movies are sure favorites.  We've just had Love in the Afternoon on and, now, I can hear An Affair to Remember playing in the other room. 

The Valentine's season brings back happy memories of my childhood, as well.  Recollections of studying the life of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and, since February 14 is Oregon's birthday, our state's history come to mind.  I remember elementary school being particularly fun around this time.

Speaking of Abraham Lincoln and elementary school, I well remember a book that I was first introduced to in second grade.  Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin D'Aulaire, first published in 1940, created an everlasting image of one of the greatest Americans.  The illustrations are absolutely fantastic, and the story is written charmingly.  I try to read the book to my own kids each year.  To me, it's one of those volumes that helped me to see Lincoln as the hero that he was.  It often seems that we are so determined to know everything about the lives of men like this in the hope of humanizing them, that we pay more attention to what made them "ordinary".  This seems particularly unfortunate for children who might not be able to judge the nuances in the lives of the people they are reading about.  In my view, the fact that the great men and women of history dealt their personal challenges as well as their public achievements makes them truly remarkable. 

Today also happens to be the anniversary of one of the great events in the history of America's first ladies.  Some of you may remember watching the February 14, 1962, program, A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy.  While we are used to seeing our president's wives on shows from Diff'rent Strokes (Nancy Reagan) to iCarly (Michelle Obama), America just wasn't accustomed to this kind of thing.  In an effort to increase support for her restoration of the White House, Mrs. Kennedy agrees to take Americans through the presidential residence.  While today it might look rather stiff, and Jackie's voice a little too breathy, it was groundbreaking for its time.  It also helped Americans to understand and appreciate the importance of the White House in the nation's life.  Explaining that she felt that the mansion and the activities conducted there should show the very best that America had to offer, Mrs. Kennedy helped to downplay any criticism that she was simply "redecorating" on the taxpayer's dime.  While other first ladies have worked just as hard (some even harder) at improving the White House collection, Jackie Kennedy will always be remembered for dramatically bringing the issue to the public's attention.

So, Happy Valentine's Day to you and yours...  Celebrate love, romance and friendship but, if you really want to be dapper and dreamy, don't limit your efforts to just today!

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