There was only one thing I appreciated more in my carefree days as an elementary schoolboy than summer vacation.
Holidays that led to three day weekends.
Summer vacation, by all means, is incomparable to any other holiday. It is, after all, the mother of all breaks, but it was all anticipation. There was always more appreciation for those holidays that gave you that single day to break the routine, and extend the weekend. Those days were well treasured, because unlike summer vacation, there was no countdown. They would magically appear on the calendar and reduce the school week to four days. It was a wonderful experience.
That is, until I found out I was getting ripped off.
After all, what is this, “President’s Day?” Where is my “George Washington Day?” Where is my “Abraham Lincoln Day?” More importantly, I used to think to myself, “Where is my extra day off?”
Imagine my disdain when I found out I could have been getting two days off, instead of just one. What could be more patriotic than to remember two of our most reputable presidents on two separate holidays? We can thank one of our most disreputable presidents for that.
Until 1971, Feb. 12 and Feb 22 were celebrated for George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, respectively. Then, President Richard Nixon proclaimed one single holiday to observe all presidents. All 43 presidents were to be recognized under the same day.
That was my first experience of being cheated by people I was supposed to trust, my educators. Of course, I attended LAUSD public schools, so it wouldn’t be the first time I would feel cheated during my educational process.
The holiday, which I now knew to be a cluster of potential days off from the rigors of school, was forever cheapened in my mind. We should recognize, I thought, these presidents individually, like Woodrow Wilson, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.
And what happened to Columbus Day? I never had that day off either. Regardless of the entire colonialism, obliteration of millions of people and subjugation of an entire race, I thought I should be able to sleep late and watch my cartoons in the morning with a tasty bowl of cereal.
Imagine my surprise when I found out that some schools were staying home on Cesar Chavez Day as well, while I was forced to go to school and learn my multiplication tables. Never mind that I was able to learn about the man’s struggles and accomplishments. I was in elementary school. I wanted my day off.
Sure, we had Martin Luther King Day, Veterans Day, Labor Day and Memorial Day off. But, I wanted them all. I want all the holidays I was entitled to. I wanted all the three-day weekends and barbecue days that a tiny 10 year-old schoolboy was entitled to. Come to think about it, I should have had my birthday off, too. I used to beg and plead to my parents to let me stay home when my birthday fell on a weekday, but it was to no avail. They valued education too much.
There is nothing sadder than a boy doing long division on his birthday.
I can’t enjoy holidays anymore, or summer vacations. Now, they are nothing more than a time to catch up on schoolwork and squeeze in that part-time job for extra cash. But what can I say? I hold a grudge.