Presidents Day: Don’t Work; Don’t Imagine George Washington in Drag

Is it just me, or is Presidents Day easily the least emotionally inspiring of our holidays? Oh, sure, I always choke up a little whenever I or my wife get paid for not going to work. That’s a beautiful, even inspiring thing. But beyond that, I’m not even sure what Presidents Day is.

I know that when I was a kid, the point of Presidents Day was to sit in class, stare at a colorful cut-out head of George Washington’s profile, and try not to make fun of his hair.

Why, I wondered, did men in Oldye Timey Days wear old lady wigs? Did all the men do it, or just the presidents? Did we used to elect presidents who also dressed like women? We only had his head to stare at, but I assumed George Washington also wore a dress. What else could I think? It’s not like he was gonna wear that hair with a suit. And this was in the late sixties, so I always had to picture our first president in a mini-skirt. With a kicky little hand purse.

Later, for Presidents Day we had to stare at the head of George Washington and Abe Lincoln, and think about how great it was that they were born. But that always made me imagine a baby with Abe Lincoln’s head, and forget that. So then I would wonder when white wigs for men went out of fashion, and top hats and crazy Amish beards became the rage. What a weird switch. I knew it was better than the lady hair with the beard, though. No question there.

Anyway, to this day I don’t really get Presidents Day. I don’t know if it’s for George Washington’s birthday, or Abe Lincoln’s birthday, or for the birthday of all Presidents, or what. So what I do, is make a point of at least thinking about how cool it is that George Washington didn’t lie about cutting down that cherry tree.

“Yes, I did cut down that tree,” I imagine him boldly proclaiming. “Now can you help me with my corset?”

Then I think about Abe Lincoln, living in a log cabin and reading at night by firelight. When I was a kid, I learned that Abe Lincoln learned to write using burned sticks on the back of a shovel. And I used to think, “I can’t believe they kept a shovel in their living room. Were they digging holes right there in their house? How cool! I wish we could keep a shovel in our living room.” Then I used to think how there was no way a teacher could object if I turned in my homework done on the back of a shovel. “But Lincoln did it,” I’d say. “Don’t you want me to be a great as Abe Lincoln?”

Anyway, I think the main thing about Presidents Day is to remember that on this day, we should all take a one or five dollar bill, stare at George Washington or Abe Lincoln’s face, and reflect upon how great it is to live in a country where you can get paid for not going to work. If getting paid for not working doesn’t say “Our Elected Officials,” I just don’t know what does.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • textjunkie

    Fooey. I had to go to work today… :P

    But I think of Presidents' Day a lot like Veterans' Day–it's a really freakin' tough job, being president, and I'm glad for the folks who have stepped up to do it (mostly. Or at least some of them).

  • Ron

    George Washington in drag = Bea Arthur. I’m totally convinced they were separated at birth. Yeah, 190 years apart, but still.

    • Diana A.

      Not kind, but funny!

  • Mark Lattimore

    Thanks, John. Now I can only imagine GW cutting down the cherry tree while wearing the mascara and mini skirt, which was bound to ride up. Swing and tug. Swing and tug. Can I have your phone number so I can call you at 4 o’clock tomorrow morning when I wake up in a cold sweat and thank you properly for that image?

    • Nicole

      Where’s the “like” button??! :D

  • Gordon

    This is very funny, but please keep posting it every year anyway, OK?

  • Mindy

    Cleaning coffee off of my screen while not going to work never gets old. Keep posting it, every year.

    Now, I just need the kind of job that will pay me for not being there . . . .

  • Valerie

    OMGosh now I am picturing George Washington in a 60′s style mini dress with a cute little purse!! Thank you so much for that mental image that will NEVER go away!!! FOCL

    • Valerie

      And I have to work today thank you very much :(

  • Nicole

    Huh. I will probably never look at George the same way again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.hedman Matt Hedman via Facebook

    Good stuff. The lipstick almost matches the rosiness in his cheeks. Happy Prez Day to everyone!

  • Hannah Grace

    George Washington in corset….cute.

    I heard he swore like a sailor. I’ve liked him more ever since.

  • Sharon K

    Forwarded the link for this to nearly everyone in my email address book, but Facebook won’t let me tag all my friends so they’ll get a notice. Sorry. Oh, and added it to my Favorites.

    John, I think your family doctor should refer you for a brain scan. Some of your thought processes would make for an excellent clinical research study.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chad-Parker/1567055733 Chad Parker via Facebook

    This President’s Day was the 220th anniversary of Georgie’s signing of the legislation that created the Post Office (which in its current form, USPS, is my employer.) Thanks George! However, I have to work every single holiday because the mail never stops moving and I’m at the bottom of the totem pole. No complaints, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had.
    Keep up the good work John!

  • http://www.facebook.com/love.sanchez Love Sanchez-Suarez via Facebook

    i had to work, too. our college had classes yesterday. and today. MardiGras?! yeah.

  • Carol B.

    George Washington…Bea Arthur?! Holy crap! You’re right, Ron!

  • boy jesse

    President’s Day is a celebration of a magnificent nature! That’s when all the mattresses go on sale, didn’t you know??

  • Martha J

    Last sentence: Bazinga! Here’s hoping for statesmen to honor.


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