“Count your life by smiles, not tears. Count your age by friends, not years.” —John Lennon


As a child growing up in Illinois in the 1960s, I loved the month of February. Not only was it short, getting us to spring quicker, but until 1969, we had two days off from school. Well, at least some of the time . . .

We often had Washington’s birthday off on the 22nd, already having had Lincoln’s birthday off on the 12th. It had to be one of six calendar configurations where that worked. Sometimes one or the other fell on a weekend, but we were guaranteed at least one day off in February, two if we were lucky!

All that disappeared in 1969, due to the prior year’s passage of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act.¹ Goodbye, Abe . . . The switch usually left the two “birthdays” too close together, and the Federal holiday trumped the State holiday.

Of course, in our house February 12th was always a reason to celebrate, Lincoln’s birthday notwithstanding. It was my sister’s birthday. She was tickled to share the day with Illinois’s favorite son. I always felt it was unfair that she had no school on her birthday! By the time the new law went into effect, she was graduating from college, so the negative impact to her was minimal.

Carole also shared her birthday with our grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws! She played that card a lot, too. You have figured out by now that she was the oldest, right?

You’ve met Ed several times, already. Invite to Dinner, Independence, and Work probably have the most stories about him, with additional mentions of him, elsewhere. He was born on Lincoln’s birthday in 1887, but in Wisconsin, so it may not have been a big deal. Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois regularly brag about their Lincoln connection, but Wisconsin really has no claim to him. I’m sure Lincoln is not a rock star in Wisconsin, like he is in the other three states.

Edward Mathias Haws, born 12 February 1887, died 26 March 1966. Date of photo unknown but possibly taken shortly before his marriage in 1914. I believe I got the photo from one of my grandaunts — one of his sisters. I see a lot of my dad in him. Or maybe the other way around?

By the time Ed moved to Illinois, he was an adult, so no one much cared when his birthday was — or who he shared it with! I was young (not quite eight years old) when he died, so never had a chance to talk with him about his tenuous link to Lincoln. I don’t know how he felt about that, or about Carole being born on his birthday, for that matter. Was it something the two of them ever talked about?

I’ll never know. Shared birthdays are just one of those quirky things that pop up in a tree. But every February 12th, I have three people to think about, while I try to determine if the bank will be open, or the mail delivered.



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