A Presidential Weekend

On this Presidents Day weekend, we had the opportunity to admire our own president being presidential. President Biden made a surprise and historic visit to Kyiv, a show of U.S. support and solidarity with a democratic nation battling for its survival after Russian forces invaded the country nearly a year ago. It was the first time in modern history that a U.S. president entered a war zone where there was not an active American military presence, a sign of courage and confidence befitting his office.

When Jon was a young boy growing up in Illinois, the state observed two individual presidential holidays in February: Lincoln’s Birthday on February 12, and Washington’s Birthday on February 22. Beginning in the 1960s, efforts were made to join the two days as a way of giving equal recognition to two of America’s most famous statesmen. Situating Presidents Day on the third Monday in February meant it would always occur from February 15 to 21, inclusive. It would never fall on either man’s birthday. In fact, although four chief executives (Washington and Lincoln, along with William Henry Harrison and Ronald Reagan) were born in February, none of their birthdays coincide with Presidents’ Day. So a day that was initially set aside to honor Washington and Lincoln is now popularly seen as a day to recognize the lives and achievements of all of America’s chief executives. Some argue that grouping Washington and Lincoln together with less successful presidents minimizes their legacies. But we don’t see it that way. We think of Presidents Day as a day to celebrate the presidency itself, regardless of the individual who holds the office at any one time.

Our weekend began not on Friday but on Thursday evening, when we arrived after work and after dark to set up camp. With overnight temperatures forecast in the upper 20s, we didn’t want to take any chances of repeating the damage we had from the previous freeze. So Chef Cliff made a delightful cream of mushroom soup and we settled in for the evening.

Next morning, Jon headed to the office while Cliff stayed behind to “work from home.” Jon joined him in the early afternoon to finish his workday “remotely.” It meant we could enjoy a proper cocktail hour ahead of Date Night dinner. Because overnight temperatures were still dipping below freezing, Chef Cliff opted to pan-sear our steak indoors. Afterwards, we watched “Airplane,” the 1980 parody of earlier disaster films from the 1970s. Though undeniably juvenile and silly, it’s still a hilarious spoof filled with slapstick comedy and memorable lines that continue to entertain.

Saturday found us snuggled with our doggies while reading The New York Times, enjoying breakfast cocktails, brunching, napping, and generally relaxing. With temperatures remaining in the low 50s, it was still a bit too cool to spend much time outdoors, so Chef Cliff prepared our feta-stuffed pancetta-wrapped pork medallions in the electric skillet, accompanied by cheesy broccoli and cob corn. We ended the evening watching four episodes of “Party Down,” a two-season, 20-episode comedy series about a group of caterers who hope to make it in showbiz, that originally aired on Starz from 2009-2010. Jon read a favorable review in The New York Times about a six-episode revival set for release on February 24, so we thought we’d catch up in preparation.

The long-promised weather warm-up finally started on Sunday, prompting preparations for an al fresco brunch and an evening campfire. With a nod to the holiday weekend, Chef Cliff grilled hamburger dogs and hotdogs, accompanied by crispy crinkle cut French fries and ranch-style beans.

On Presidents Day, we awoke to the news of our current Commander in Chief visiting the war zone in Ukraine. We couldn’t have been more proud. All indications are that he was the very definition of presidential: having a bearing or demeanor befitting a president; dignified and confident. In strong, clear terms, he voiced our nation’s solidarity with the courageous people of Ukraine and pledged our ongoing support of their defense of the Russian invasion. Amid sounds of air-raid sirens, President Biden walked Kyiv’s streets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Wall of Remembrance for those killed during the war. It was a memorable Presidents Day, to be sure.