1. When February comes along, how do you feel about the coming month?
I grew up in Connecticut, and February meant several things: a winter school vacation that we spent skiing; two family birthdays and a few birthdays of friends scattered through the month; the probability of snow! You might say that February was crowded with things to anticipate, so it's a month I rather enjoy.
2. What memories do you have about Valentine's Day? Are you doing anything to observe it this year?
My Dad's birthday is on Valentine's Day, so it was always festive when I was young (we even had a heart-shaped pan to bake his cake, and I still have those pans). One of my dogs was also born on that date, and another, a rescue, was given that date as an approximate time of birth. In a sense Valentine's Day has been about celebrating someone I loved more than about the whole romance thing.
On the romance note, I spent more years not in relationships than in one, so it wasn't about that for me. For many years I made Valentine cards for my parents, a few friends and the children in my life. I got out of the habit during the last few years but have brought that personal tradition back this year. We have no plans to anything special on Sunday except where red to church! If we had some discretionary funds we might have gone out to dinner, but instead we'll tuck in and watch the Olympics!
3. It is interesting that Monday's "Presidents Day" is not officially called that in every state. It is a U.S. federal holiday entitled "Washington's Birthday." Which is your favorite president and why?
It's easiest to measure the presidents who have served in my lifetime. I have been most excited about President Obama, in part because he advocates for the things that I think a president should. Many of those things follow gospel wisdom, so I think of him as a "gospel president." He's having a rough go of trying to implement the changes he desired, but no matter how many of them actually occur, he has given it a huge effort. No one can fault him for that, no matter their politics.
4. Will you be celebrating Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras? How?We will celebrate Mardi Gras at church on Tuesday with a pot luck dinner, decorations, rocking music and games. This all started as a way for everyone to participate in the evening and not strand a few cooks in the kitchen flipping pancakes and missing out on the fun.
5. Any other ways to celebrate in February?
I don't think of Lent as something celebrated, in the usual sense of the word, but I love the Ash Wednesday liturgy and the shift in focus for the season. Not the somberness, but the journey toward the cross and Easter that we do as a community. We close our Mardi Gras event by burning the dried palms from the previous year, easing the transition from carnival to ashes.
Bonus: A Lenten book or website you recommend.
I use this web site for a lot of traditions tidbits and to help reinforce my own memory! It's great for all seasons of the church year. I'm going to take advantage of this question to recommend a book that has nothing to do with Lent! It is Enduring Grace: Living portraits of Seven Women Mystics. Wonderfully written, almost a page-turner!