Models Monday: Micro-Galas and Inauguration 2013


My aunt attended an inaugural brunch four years ago in the home of a friend and she would repeat that experience this past Monday when President Obama was sworn in a second time. About thirty people attended the first brunch. While there weren’t as many people attending this most recent inaugural brunch, my aunt said everyone had a wonderful time. On the menu were waffles, eggs–any way you wanted them, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, chicken salad, and mimosas. Apparently, there was no particular dress requirement, but I imagine everyone was pretty covered-up as Cleveland saw very low temperatures on inauguration day.

A good friend of my mother’s runs her own day care and she had an inauguration party for her kids. Ranging in age from three to nine, the children were required to wear red, white, or blue; they learned how to pronounce the word inauguration and learned its definition; they came to identify the members of the first family; they rehearsed the songs of their country as they heard them play out throughout the ceremony. On their menu were waffles, hot dogs, sloppy joes, chips, and brownies.

Daniel Day-Lewis in the Lincoln Bedroom in the private residence at the White House on November 15, 2012. Day-Lewis was so good at playing Lincoln that I completely forgot that he was acting. Pete Souza.

My husband and I caught an early morning showing of Lincoln the day of the inauguration. It seemed like an appropriate film to screen on such an historic day.

I didn’t hear much about these kinds of celebrations in the mainstream media, but I suspect that there were similar micro-galas and carefully chosen events to mark the King Holiday and President Obama’s inauguration hosted and planned by everyday folk throughout the land. Real life really does push past its representation in popular culture. As I impatiently waited to see Michelle Obama’s ball gown, I got so bored watching television tell the same stories of the day’s inaugural events as they imagined them to have only occurred on Pennsylvania Avenue. My aunt’s recap of her day discussing current events, generational change, family, and fashion was far more compelling than most of what I saw featured on television. The television narrative about those of us at home was that we spent it envying the people who scored tickets to the balls that we wished we could attend. My experience of inauguration 2013 both personally and through the stories of friends and family never even came close to envy. We enjoyed our own deliberate efforts to commemorate a very important day in our nation’s history.

I was surprised that many of the blogs that I read, specifically those focused on cooking and entertaining, didn’t share a special inauguration cupcake, cookie, or cake; usually those bloggers will create a scenario so that they can make something to share. Friends of mine who have Facebook pages said that people didn’t tend to post pictures of the events they may have hosted to celebrate the inauguration as much as they documented their reactions to what was playing out on television in relationship to the event. I hope we get to see more in the coming days about how people marked the day. Perhaps folk don’t recognize that there are people hungering for stories more interesting than the non-story of where Beyonce actually performed the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Unfortunately, one of the reasons why I believe people may not have posted their inauguration menus, recipes, and lesson plans may have been because they are still salty over President Obama’s victory so they tried to avoid anything having to do with the inauguration. I definitely think that this was the case at my son’s play school, which is located in a very conservative county. I received conflicting reports concerning whether or not the inauguration was marked at his school. My four-year-old son is not very reliable when it comes to giving reports but one of the little girls in his class, a slightly older girl, told my husband that they had an “inauguration party.” When I asked the teacher about that she told me that the school did not host any events leading up to the election and they did not encourage any activities recognizing the inauguration. My son’s teacher confirmed that she hosted an “inauguration party” in her classroom, but that actually became an act of resistance. I think that it is grossly irresponsible for a school to ignore an event as nationally and historically significant as the presidential inauguration. No matter who gets elected, the inauguration is an element of U.S. governmental procedure acknowledging voting rights as a fundamental democratic practice; it is also a non-partisan event–even John Boehner was there; Chief Justice Roberts, a George W. Bush nominee, officially swore in Obama on Sunday and Monday.

There are wonderful resources available at the Smithsonian’s website that could be used by educators in marking the inauguration. Given that the 2013 inauguration also fell on the King holiday, there are equally provocative resources at the Smithsonian’s website that would have served an educator well. What I know for sure is that young people are ill served when educators decide to allow partisanship to influence class content. Since I’m being very honest, I have to admit to being disappointed that some of my favorite food bloggers failed to provide inauguration brunch menu suggestions or inauguration themed sugar cookie recipes on their sites. Perhaps like me, they will be posting their experience of Inauguration 2013 later, once they’ve had an opportunity to process it all. I certainly hope that’s the case because it’s hard to believe in someone’s entertainment and home hosting expertise when they fall silent on the occasion of the nation’s greatest opportunity to celebrate the outcome of our democratic process.

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