The story of a gown

    Before I tell you about this gown, let's talk about poll results.

    It turns out, my friends, that you are greedy women! I think that's fantastic! You should be!

    The vast majority of you — a full 45 percent — answered "All of the above" in my Valentine's Day, indicating that you wanted world peace, chocolate & flowers, wild sex, dinner at a restaurant, lingerie and a gift card to the bookstore from your honey on Valentine's Day. Not too surprisingly, the next most popular choice was "Wild sex," chosen by 25 percent of you, while 20 percent just wanted a gift card to the bookstore. "Dinner at a restaurant" and "Chocolate & flowers" each garnered 5 percent of the vote.

    So, leaving world peace out — that was a long shot anyway — who among you got what you wanted? What has he done for you lately?

    And now for something completely different...

    The gown in the image above is an authentic 19th-century gown. In fact, it's a very special 19th-century gown. It's Mary Todd Lincoln's inaugural gown.

    It was made by my great-great aunt.

    My grandmother's aunt is descended from nobility who gave up their holdings and left the Madeira Islands because they were being persecuted for being Protestant. They came to the United States during the Civil War and settled in Springfield, Illinois, where most of my family still live and where I was born.

    What skills do the well-brought-up daughters of minor nobility possess? How can they make a living in this world? Well, some of them are good with the needle, as my great-great-aunt was. She was eventually chosen to make this gown, one reason my family has always felt a tie to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. (The other is being from Springfield, of course.)

    My mother has the leftover material from the making of Mary Todd Lincoln's inaugural gown. It's on a national historic registry of significant thingys. I've seen it. I've held it. And it's funny for me to see the actual gown and know that the piece of material we have in my mother's closet was once connected to what I see in this picture and that my family had a connection, no matter how minor, to the Lincolns.

    On Monday, we celebrate President's Day in honor of two truly great men, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I just thought I'd share that personal tidbit of my own American history with you.

    Don't forget to check out the new poll!

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