Sep 23, 2009

Half Way to St. Patrick's Day; My Thoughts

I saw a huge sign over a bar in my neighborhood advertising a "Half Way To St. Paddy's Day Party," and I thought, "ooh, best get busy." See, it's never too early to start thinking about St. Patrick's Day; I struggle with celebrating the day every year, so I need at least a six-month lead to process and plan.

How to Feel?
Truth is, I'm proud to be Irish any day but St. Patrick's Day, when New York City is invaded by drunken teenagers from Long Island, vomiting their Kiss-Me-I'm-Irishness all over the sidewalk. I swing from feeling proud and lucky to being annoyed, insulted, offended, and hurt. Then I feel guilty, uptight, sad, and even snobby, and back to proud, lucky, annoyed, and offended, again. In short, I'm confused. Maybe this year I can just do my own thing and not worry what everyone else is doing. It's Oprah's fault I'm overthinking this...

What To Wear?
I never wore green growing up in Ireland; we wore little St. Patrick's Day badges, and if we were lucky–a sprig of shamrock. I understand that green is synonymous with Ireland outside of Ireland, and I happen to love the color, but for some reason, I feel like a caricature of myself when I dress in green on March 17th.
So I don't.
I wear my County (Clare) or hometown (Clarecastle Magpies) colors/jerseys.

(You can show your local pride by shopping
your County's gear at
O'Neills Sportswear)

The jersey or sweatshirt is grand for the Parade, but it's handy to have a t-shirt–an uncheesy, cool, and clever t-shirt–to make everyone green with envy at a St. Patrick's Day party. Finding one, however, is like finding that pot of gold pictured on everyone elses' shirt, so I make my own. Creating an original and (at least in my head) humorous shirt allows me to laugh at myself and stand out from the greenery. Last year's t-shirt was hot pink, with the chorus-lyrics of The Jumbo Breakfast Roll–a favorite Pat Shortt song– printed on the front. People either laughed out loud or shook their heads in puzzlement–a sure sign that it was high fashion!
Will have to make the most of my six-month lead time to design something special for St. Patrick's Day 2010. Watch this space...

How To Celebrate?
Dilemma: I don't want to be the March Grinch by not celebrating St. Patrick's Day, and I don't want to be the Incredible Hulk, getting angry and frustrated at the cheddary, and, sorry–vomitosious carryon, but I also don't want to sell my soul to the green devil.
Ugh, hit me I'm Irish!
I do celebrate. As a parent of two Irish-American boys, I want them to feel a connection to their roots, but know that it is only a part of who they are. I am striving for an authentic connection to Ireland through music, literature, sport, and family, and praying that I'm not creating green monsters!
My traditions involve whipping up a batch of my grandmother's scones and an Irish Breakfast the way my mother makes it (with all the usuals as well as fried bread, mushrooms, and tomatoes). For dinner, I've made Shepherd's Pie or Fish Pie in the past, but Corned Beef and Cabbage has never made it onto a plate in my house!
I take my older son out of school for the day to mark the occasion; we've done the parade a few times, though we have to trek so far uptown to avoid the green mess of midtown, that it's a bit of a waste. Besides, he gets bored after five minutes of marching monotony. Last year I took him to Ellis Island which was great in this-is-where-it-all-started theory, just not quite as poignant as I was hoping for. Might do The Irish Famine Memorial next year; I'm feeling the need to get heavy on the Holiday.
That said, I enjoy a little levity, too. Last year I was invited to a St. Patrick's Day party where the host had put a lot of work into assembling a playlist of seventy-four different versions of Danny Boy; it was a great laugh. Otherwise it was just a group of friends getting together with an any-excuse-to-party attitude–as authentic as you can get!
This year my kids will march in the local parade with their Gaelic Football club, we'll cook something together (or starve and do the Famine Memorial), watch Killinaskully, and then maybe I'll read them some Yeats before they go to bed–that, or they'll march locally and we'll leave it at that.

Luckily, I have six more months to think on it...

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