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Monday, February 21, 2011

Ash Wednesday is March 9, 2011

I’ve always felt ambiguous about my birthday.


I think this is because when I was a kid, the public schools all got Washington’s Birthday off.  But I went to Catholic school. So, on my birthday most other kids had a holiday.  My sisters were away at boarding school and my Dad was often out of town working construction, so there were just two of us – three at most. A cake, a present, a couple of cards from godparents on a chilly February evening. Not a big deal.


Ambiguity about birthday’s doesn’t lessen once the day is marked by AARP solicitations.  


Then there’s the question of when my birthday is. The Queen’s birthday and Jesus’s birthday are always a particular day, following convention regardless of historical reality.  So, was I born on February 22, or on Ash Wednesday (this year March 9), or Washington’s Birthday (even though Washington was born on February 11) or the new, 3rd-Monday-In-February Washington’s Birthday, which means I should be celebrating today.


Celebrating my birthday on Washington’s Birthday (the official holiday now generally known as President’s Day) makes sense now that IRI has this day off as a holiday and I can make up for those holidays I missed as a child.  I think I’m going to go to Steak and Shake for lunch TODAY and have one of those things that’s halfway between a milk shake and a sundae (I can’t tell you the name, but I’ll know it when I see it on the menu).


Ash Wednesday would be OK as well, because even though I’m no longer a Catholic I have great respect for the symbolism of the ritual: “Remember, man, that you are dust – and unto dust you shall return!”  That’s particularly meaningful right now, because I picked up Dad’s ashes at the post office two days ago.  Dad’s around in various places, but least of all in those ashes.

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