President’s Day is not typically a great holiday.
I mean, the day seems to be nice enough for school-children and government employees (who get the day off), as well as for people who sell cars or furniture (who seem to make a big deal out of the opportunity to move inventory). But for most of us, President’s Day is quite forgettable.
This year, though, something magic was in the air.
Over the weekend, I started my annual tradition of gradually whittling down my Christmas-to-Birthday Beard — and my first step was an unusual look I call the “Chester Arthur.” He was the 21st President of the United States of America, but it may well be that one of the most significant elements of his legacy has become his facial hair: seamlessly linking sideburns and a handlebar moustache. I’ve gotten some funny looks over the last couple of days — especially from my own children — but it’s been fun!
The real fun, however, happened this afternoon. After I got home from my last meeting of the day, I found our neighborhood buzzing with all kinds of activity. The sun was shining. The air was fresh and mild. The boys of the neighborhood were playing soccer across three yards. The girls were selling iced tea on the sidewalk. And the adults were all centered around our neighbors’ driveway, where they were boiling down maple sap into maple syrup: another 19th Century anachronism that proved surprisingly delightful on a day such as today.
I was welcomed into the circle and served a drink. We watched the littlest ones show off their new skills in walking and talking, far advanced beyond the point on the calendar when we were all driven inside for the winter. We laughed deep belly laughs at stories of our kids, our associations with the 1970s, and the maple syrup experiment unfolding in front of us. We arbitrated disputes between our children. We caught up on all the latest news from each other’s lives.
We had to troubleshoot the syrup-making process a couple of times, but we had such a good time enjoying the process together. I don’t know how the syrup will end up tasting, but the experience was sweet enough in its own right — and you could say that it definitely brought our neighborhood to a point where we stick together, like a stack of flapjacks.
It was easily the best President’s Day I can remember. But already, I’m looking forward to the next one.