Great Performances never closes. During peak summer holiday weekends, we work; during the challenging months post 9/11, we gratefully worked; while the city was paralyzed with snow, our trucks were running and the phone was answered - we were open! Even during the recession, we managed to keep ourselves busy (in fact, like everyone else, we worked harder than ever.)
So when the memo went around stating that the office would be closed today, I was amazed. And nervous, why were we closed? I checked the manual and read the list of official holidays -
Recognized GP Holidays - GP Office is closed:
New Year's Day
President's Day - Monday, February 21, 2011
I understand the mighty 6 (even though many of us are working events those days) but it seems that President's Day has lost the aura it once had. And there seems to be a smorgasbord of holidays, Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day and President's Day, where companies mix and match days off.
Past barometers for true holidays were banks, schools, the Stock Market and government offices. The banks are almost as bad as caterers, as they are always open, even today. What will become of the expression 'bankers hours': "Working or being open for the shortest and most inconvenient amount of time (~10am-4pm). Also includes a long lunch break and every possible holiday off." Urban Dictionary.
Clearly schools and businesses with organized labor are not planning on being open on a day that they have historically been closed. But that still leaves a great deal of folks on the subways and buses to the office - like my husband who trudged off to a semi-occupied Rockefeller Center. I passed a Pret-a-Manager on Madison Avenue, and they were open; they are cautious about preparing food that will not be purchased, I guess they know their audience. Were the retail stores filled with shoppers working up an appetite while looking to take advantage of final sales? Is that considered a form of work? And I am pleased to report that many New Yorkers took advantage of the day to work out; my gym was crowded.
Come to think of it, everyone off today deserves the break. And if not from a busy 2011, then from a stressful few years of working so much harder for the same, or smaller, reward. Today felt like a sort of freebie - a vacation day that I wasn't desperate for but enjoyed with a touch of guilt, after all, my desk is piled sky high with work that needs to get done. I had high hopes of getting a chunk of it accomplished, and instead, I will have blogged (whew), will bake some gluten-free, dairy-free cookies (meringues), watched a movie with my kids (who are all home on vacation from their jobs as students, sweet) and maybe, work on a project if motivated before cocktail time.
I suppose I should reflect on the meaning of this holiday, but as the observances are so varied, I am not sure how to do this. I salute our great Presidents, and wonder what they would think about their memory being linked to school vacations, retail sales and selective business closings. A quick search of activities available today yielded a trove of even more conflicting messages, but some extremely creative options!
From the Examiner.com - Presidents Day events, activities and closures across America
Google's Presidential Showcase - Download Google Earth and see a map of all the U.S. presidents, view their birthplaces and see a "progressions of the states that voted during each president's election. " You can even see the White House in 3D
Presidents Day Sale at Bath & Body Works - In honor of Presidents Day, Buy 3 and get 3 Free in the Signature Collection.
Free Washington's Birthday Celebration - Visit Washington's home and burial site for free on Presidents Day. A military demonstration is scheduled to begin at 10:15 A.M. followed by a Surprise Birthday Party with a host of characters at 1:30.
http://www.apples4theteacher.com/holidays/presidents-day/ - will give you a host of arts and crafts projects and other educational activities appropriate to commemorating Presidents Day. For more practical lessons, go to abcteach.com or atozteachersstuff.com
The Sylviacenter.org offers culinary classes to children on Presidents Day as well as all week long. Independence through cooking!
And, DID YOU KNOW, that today marks the start of what the retail industry calls "the secondary sales" period. "The middle of February marks a tricky time in retail: Inventory that hasn't sold over the holidays and post-holiday sales is still taking up valuable shelf space while spring lines that are coming in may add a burst of color and newness to a retail floor, but when it's snowing outside and the weather forecast calls for a week of frigid temperatures, the non-luxury set isn't going to shell out full price for swimsuits, capris, tanks, and shorts."
I learned that the most American thing you might do today is take advantage of an incredible offer from Detroit's automakers, Chrysler and GM, and get your best deal on a new car. Check out Edmunds.com.
And from a post on 2/15/09, crafting a new definition of patriotic duty on this holiday:
It's Presidents Day - Go Shopping
Sure, it's the federal holiday on which we honor George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, but now more than ever, Presidents' Day is a day on which we really need to go to those Presidents' Day sales and do lots and lots of economy-stimulating spending.
I hope whatever you did, you had a good day. Here are a few quotes from George Washington to close with:
"My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth. "
"Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company."
"An army of asses led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by an ass"
"Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. "
PS: Though the phones were not officially answered today, the cooks and chefs in the kitchen at Great Performances were busy at work preparing for tomorrow. Now I can relax knowing that at GP, we never do.
Follow Liz Neumark on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GPfood