For many, President’s Day is simply a reason to enjoy a long weekend away from the office. For others, it’s a day to hit the mall and check out all the specials their favorite department stores are running. In reality, it should be a day to honor those that have led our country over the past 200+ years, especially George Washington, as President’s Day is the federal celebration of his birthday.
This year, consider celebrating President’s Day properly by making it a day to pay your respects to our finest presidents and to honor everything they stood for. The following are just a few great ideas to get you started.
1. Prepare a president-inspired meal.
Officially speaking, President’s Day is the national celebration of George Washington’s birthday, and every proper birthday celebration calls for good food. Consider planning a menu that includes some of his favorites.
Fish is an excellent choice for your main course, as Washington was said to be “excessively fond” of it. Martha Washington was also an accomplished baker. Consider choosing one of her many favorite dishes for dessert. Examples include macaroons, marzipan, spice cake, and fruit pies of all types.
Alternatively, you can try a Lincoln-inspired meal, as his February birthday is also considered to be part of what you celebrate on President’s Day. Lincoln spent his early years in a log cabin, so it’s likely that he enjoyed foods traditionally enjoyed in the Kentucky frontier. Examples include venison, bacon, eggs, and gingerbread.
2. Start a self-improvement plan based on presidential values.
Part of what we celebrate on President’s Day is the strength of character great men like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln demonstrated over the course of their lives. What better way to honor that than by vowing to develop stronger characters ourselves?
Sit down with your family and choose some ways you can improve, both together and separately. Have each person list one or two of their own character flaws and state how they plan on correcting them. The rest of the group can respond by sharing how they plan to help.
3. Spend some time outside enjoying Mother Nature.
Washington famously worked outdoors as a surveyor in the Virginia wilderness. Consider honoring that part of his life by spending President’s Day enjoying the natural world around you just as he did. Pack a picnic and enjoy it outdoors with your family at your favorite park. Spend some time on your favorite hiking trail or visit your favorite natural area and take some pictures.
If you have access to a lake, river, or ocean, consider taking a swim or a kayak ride in honor of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. Even starting your day with a walk around the block is a great way to celebrate.
4. Spend some time curled up with an appropriate book.
If it’s too chilly to spend time outside on President’s Day where you live, consider adding some substance to a day indoors with an appropriate read. Honor Lincoln’s iconic role as the Great Emancipator with a collection of his most famous speeches. Alternatively, you can read up on the history of slavery in America, on African-American history, or on race relations in America in general.
You can also read up on any one of America’s great national parks and plan a visit in the year to come, as they’re the perfect places to really understand the magnitude and beauty of America. Not sure which park to pick? Start with Yellowstone, America’s first national park.
5. Write a letter to the President of the United States.
This is an especially great activity for children and families to do together, as it’s a great way to get young people thinking about important issues in the country they call home. It’s also a wonderful way for younger children to practice and develop essential writing skills.
Ask each child to name something they’d like to see change in America. What do they think is unfair about living in the United States and why do they feel it’s important that it change? Also, ask them to name something they think is wonderful about life in America. Then help them write a respectful letter to the current president that expresses both of those things.
Of course, these are just a few suggestions as to how you and your family can best honor the spirit of President’s Day this year. Don’t be afraid to come up with even more creative, meaningful ideas of your own.