Banter Bites

Past Presidents ... Lived In The Past

What exactly are we celebrating on Presidents’ Day – other than it being a Federal holiday?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: When it comes to celebrating birthdays, Red thinks of cakes and gifts, but obviously, that doesn’t apply to dead presidents; while Black, who barely tolerates birthdays (hers or anyone else’s), wishes we’d celebrate Washington’s and Lincoln’s birthdays by honoring who they were.


Red used to love both George Washington’s and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays when she was in elementary school (back in the 1960s) and not just because they’d have off from school on each of their respective birthdays. (Although only Washington’s birthday was a Federal holiday.) She loved that the holidays prompted learning about each president and even now, decades later, thought of each of them as true heroes of American democracy – Washington as one of the Founding Fathers and Lincoln as the creator of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Black could relate to Washington, who supposedly worked on his birthday, but always thought turning it into a “shared” Presidents' Day diluted the meaning of each. But understood the “logic” (and politics) of creating it, and ultimately making it part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act in order to create more three-day weekends. Her concern, though, is how historical figures, including presidents, are being judged based on current standards vs. the times that they lived in,

Context is everything. Does the fact Washington had slaves (12 of our first 18 presidents did) and did not make sure his wife, Martha, would be allowed to vote, negate that he was instrumental to the United States getting its independence from Britain and our first president (FYI, he warned against political parties)?

That got Red thinking as she’s always loved history and strongly believes one of the most critical roles that history plays is to help us learn from the past and, hopefully, not repeat mistakes. But that shouldn’t mean forgetting to acknowledge what was accomplished, even if “new” facts come to light,

I’ve always loved movies, and being a theater major, I know it’s critical that the story be told so that you understand the time period in which it takes place and how that influences the character’s decisions, and often, their dilemmas. But it’s that “character” development that shows you whether they were just lucky in life or deserved to be called heroes. The same with historical figures.

So, today’s the perfect day to celebrate Washington, Lincoln, and all the other presidents. They may not have been perfect, but they stood up for what they believed and worked hard to make changes they thought important. And even using today’s standards … doesn’t that represent ideals and actions that we can all learn from and emulate?

Two years ago, on MLK Day, Red learned the power and inspiration of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the power of dreams. And as long as there's social unrest and social injustice in the United States (stop and think about the first word … as we’re supposed to be united), the more we can learn from him … as not only did he fight for equality for all, but his approach is proof of the power of peaceful protests.

For most of us, writing and delivering one powerful and/or inspiring thing would be a very difficult task. To be remembered for hundreds is truly amazing.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: There's so much one can say about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who led the civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968, and whose leadership was fundamental to the ending of legal segregation in many parts of the United States. But regardless of your position on segregation, it's almost impossible not to acknowledge, yet alone appreciate, how incredibly powerful and inspiring his words were and the impact they continue to have on the civil rights movement. But don't believe us. This goodreads post provides more than just a good read, it's a seemingly endless list of inspirational quotes while a great "refresher" course on Dr. King is available at History.com.

We grew up in New York, where bagels are almost sacred, but even though they may have started as a Jewish food in Europe, they’re now enjoyed by everyone everywhere (including Red and Black, but in very different ways) – why else would there be a National Bagel Day?

National holidays aren’t the time to count calories.

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We both agree that happiness has a hole in it, although one of us may only eat one bagel a year while the other tries to keep it to only one bagel when she does indulge.

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Another year and another National Clean Your Desk Day (yes, that’s actually a thing). So, is Red’s desk any better than the “disaster” it was last year? Well, believe it or not, it may not be perfect, but it’s significantly better. Is it because she finally listened to Black’s advice (see below) or somehow found a “secret” of her own? As it turns out, it was a combination of the two as Red discovered, even if the rest of her life isn’t “nice and neat” (that’ll never happen), she loves walking into her workroom in the morning and starting the day in a (somewhat) organized space, which provides the best motivation for keeping it that way. (Luckily, Black never brought up the science of messy desks.)

A day to clean up your desk?! It will take way more than a day …

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: No one is immune from piles of paper, not even Black, the master of organization, but there’s a huge difference between a desk with a few small piles and some scattered papers (although her laptop’s keyboard needs serious cleaning) and Red’s “workroom” that usually looks like a tornado hit it.

Which is why Red rolled her eyes when Black mentioned today’s National Clean Your Desk Day, as it’d take her significantly more than a day to “clean up this mess,” but then she remembered Black’s advice on how to keep her piles (and piles) of paper under control and felt inspired. Red admits often feeling like she’s drowning in paper, but that’s because she lets the piles get out of control before reminding herself of Black’s very easy, straightforward approach to turning her mountains of paper into small manageable hills. And, significantly reducing stress along the way, because as Black points out,

Sometimes, it is more important to know what you are ignoring than it is to deal with everything in the piles.