Monday Morning Musings:
My daughters and I threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my husband this past weekend, just before Valentine’s Day. He thought he was going to a party for one of our daughters. Today is the official celebration of Washington’s birthday (now always on a Monday). It is sometimes called “Presidents’ Day” and combined with Lincoln’s birthday. The line “I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart)” comes from E.E. Cummings.
On February 22nd,
When I was young,
We colored and cut,
We painted and pasted
Images of George Washington
Our first president.
A true commander-in-chief
Tested in battle.
The American Cincinnatus,
The first US President,
Fighting for freedom.
He carried the hopes of a nation
In his heart.
Our February schooldays,
Included holiday units,
George Washington and Abraham Lincoln,
Whose birthday we celebrated on the twelfth of February.
And so we carried home to our parents
Our construction paper masterpieces,
Revolutionary era silhouettes,
And tales of truthful George and Honest Abe,
Two leaders in war time–
One war to create a new nation
The other to keep it from dissolving.
Revolution and Civil War,
Battle lines crossed, battlefields bloodied.
And as for politics. Do you think it uncivil now?
Look again at the past.
Early campaigns filled with slander, lies, and duels.
Representative Preston Brooks
Beat Senator Charles Sumner with a cane
In a senate chamber in 1856.
I can imagine it today–
Perhaps battery by selfie stick
After a series of vitriolic tweets.
Any subject is possible.
But then it was a bill, new territories,
Popular Sovereignty, Bleeding Kansas,
And Civil War.
Owning other humans.
And yet, we forget
Events long gone, now
Backlit, perhaps a bit of uplighting,
To infuse a rosy glow
And make the past seem romantic?
O Captain! my Captain!
Crimes of the past we carry, along with our celebrations.
We also celebrated Valentine’s Day in school,
A holiday that combines ancient Roman fertility rites
And Christian saints.
There’s a combination.
Charles, Duke of Orleans, wrote one of the first Valentines
In 1415 to his wife.
He had been captured at the Battle of Agincourt
And wrote poetry while imprisoned in the Tower of London.
He was held captive for twenty-four years,
Plenty of time to reflect and write, though I think it
Just a teeny bit drastic for a writer’s retreat, don’t you?
But no such poetry for our school day parties.
We had pre-printed Valentines–
Roses are red, and violets are blue–
To place in the paper bags decorated with hearts,
A Valentine for each classmate.
We had cupcakes and juice,
Sweet crumbs clinging to our fingers
Like dreams in our hearts
We carried both throughout the day.
Our first date, was a school Christmas dance.
Just before my birthday,
A cold December night,
But we were warm with teenage hopes and expectation,
The giddiness of youth.
My mom told my aunt, you “seemed like a nice boy.”
I don’t know what your parents said.
We’ve celebrated many birthdays, and Valentine’s, too,
Since that long ago night.
I’ve carried your heart with me (I carry it in my heart).
This year you were surprised
Both by the passage of years–
Are we both nearly 60?–
And by the party.
I worried about the last minute snow
That people would not show,
That things would not go as planned.
But all went went.
And touched, I think,
By the love that people carry for you
In their hearts.
Our daughters, also with February births,
Like you and our Presidents. Our
Family celebrations carried through the month.
We had Valentine’s birthday parties for them
When they were young.
Little girls making heart-shaped cards,
Pink and red, glitter and glue,
Gifts for us and for each other.
Chocolate cakes, sundaes with mountains of toppings,
And sleepovers in the living room.
Later they had their own Valentines,
High school dances, and college romances.
And now our babies are grown
They’ve found love
Beyond parents, friends, and pets
Though those remain, of course,
Because love grows when it is nurtured
It is infinite and endless.
It cannot be contained, though it is carried.
There can never be too much love
To carry in my heart
With your heart.
Happy Birthday to Hubby … and cheers to the family successfully implementing the surprise party.
February is quite the big month in your house. Wow! Love the way you took us back to our youth as our elementary school days captured all four holidays (I included Groundhog Day). .. and then toss in birthdays! Woo hoo!!!!!
… and thanks for intertwining the tidbits of history!
You’re welcome, Frank. 😉 Thanks so much!
Thank you, Derrick!
A wonderful poem, I love it. Happy Birthday and many many more to hubby and many happy years ahead!
Thank you so much! That’s very kind. 🙂
Another wonderful poem. You brought back some of my own childhood memories of making Valentines. Happy Birthday to your husband! Mine turned 60 this year, too, and we surprised him with a small family party in January.
Thanks, Robin! A belated happy birthday to your husband! When our girls were little we always did a combined Valentine/Birthday party for them with lots of arts and crafts activities. It made it easy for us. 🙂
Happy Birthday to your hubby (and also to your girls)! And thank you for the lovely walk down Memory Lane. You painted quite a vivid picture to the path in my mind. ❤
Thanks so much, Rachel. It’s good to hear from you. I’m glad you liked the post. 🙂
Lovely vignettes today. I can certainly identify with these presidents, especially Washington whom I usually picture in silhouette. Happy Birthday to Doug too. I’d give him a copy of Judith Viorst’s Suddenly Sixty but maybe a little too girly for him – ha!
Thanks, Marian. 🙂
What a great poem, Merril. Happy birthday to your husband and daughters. The party sounds fabulous and lovely photos!
Would you believe that most Australians probably don’t know the name of our first Prime Minister? It was Edmund Barton in case you’re ever at a trivial trivia night. We probably know more about George Washington.
hope you have a great week!
Thanks, Rowena! It was a fun night and fun weekend. He didn’t know our other daughter and her wife would be flying in, so that was an extra surprise. Funny about your PM. I assume most Americans know who George Washington was, but a shocking many do not know when he was president or how it came about.
Beautiful words Merril. Your husband must have had quite a shock to find he was the star of the show rather than a daughter. Well done. I was caught in a similar way on my 60th
I hope you have a wonderful week ahead of you
xxx Hugs Galore xxx
Thanks, David. Yes, he said when I walked down the stairs that night with HER present, he was convinced the party was for her. 🙂 Hope you also have a wonderful week. Many hugs!
love, Love, LOVE it!
Awwww–thanks so much, Laurie!!
Happy Belated Birthday to your hubby! How wonderful you were able to surprise him 🙂 I loved your poem, and since I’m in your age group, it brought back SO many school memories. I miss those paper-thin Valentine’s Day cards and sorting through the heart candy.
Thank you so much, Marie. The celebration was before his actual birthday, so his actual birthday is still coming up. 🙂 I’m glad I brought back some good memories for you!
Okay, then Happy Almost Birthday to your hubby 🙂
Such a beautiful poem covering so many events. I laughed and cried 🙂 I love the way you weave history in.
Thank you so much for your very kind words, Janice. If I’ve made you laugh–and cry–I’ve really done my job well. Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
You’re welcome 🙂