I blame my mother for my love of all things Irish. And there's more to it than the fact that there are no snakes in Ireland.
When I was a teenager, I learned Mom had no shame when it came to St.Patrick’s Day. She would go to work wearing her traditional kelly green t-shirt, dangly four leaf clover earrings, a Kiss-Me-I’m Irish badge or pin, and bright green socks. Perhaps a headband with boingy bouncy light-up shamrocks would sit atop her head, but if not, then for sure her noggin was graced by a shiny leprechaun top hat. She was Irish and proud of it. (She was German too, but if you mentioned it, she would deny it.)
I passed her love for St. Paddy’s day onto my own children. When my girls were small, they each got a green carnation or a leprechaun toy on the holiday. Of course, we wore green, but we had enough self-pride to forgo the light-up shamrocks on our heads and the pot of gold tattoos on our cheeks. The girls were used to Grandma’s eccentricities and the poster-sized map of Ireland in her living room. Mom and I would actually weep when we watched any Irish dancing shows. To this day I still get choked up when I see the Maxwell House “Riverdance” commercial.
Utah is not big on St. Patrick’s Day. On my first March 17 after moving here, I stopped into a local florist and asked for green carnations. The owner looked at me like I was cuckoo. I said, “For St. Patrick’s Day.”
She looked at me strangely and said, “Oh, is it St. Patrick’s Day?” How could you not know it’s St. Patrick’s Day?
I traveled to the next town, sure that the florist in my town was purely ignorant. Seven miles away was a bigger florist. I confidently walked into the store and announced that I needed some green flowers for St. Patrick’s Day.
“We don’t carry any green flowers.”
“ I know you probably don’t normally, but since it’s St. Patrick’s Day, I thought you would have some.”
“No. I can’t say that anyone has ever asked us for that before.”
That was the first year that Daughter Em had no St. Patrick’s Day gift.
I’ve learned that I have to take things into my own hands.
I was feeling kind of sickly when I woke up today, with a sore throat, mild laryngitis and a thick feeling in my head. I was not about to waste the wearing o’ the green though. My son and I put on suitable green shirts and off we went on errands.
On our first stop I was greatly encouraged to see children dressed in green, without a reminder from me, no less.
Walmart was our next stop, where I picked up green food for our dinner. I also rounded up some crafty items so I could make it up to Em for her deprived 1998 holiday. Gnome and Hoolie were invited for dinner. Gnome had also grown up in an Irish household, full of O’Something last names and Darby O’Gill banshee nightmares. She was all pumped for a little green action.
We feasted on green mashed potatoes (Hoolie discovered she likes mashed potatoes after all, now that they’re green,) green beans, lime jello with kiwi, lemonade in green cups garnished with lime, and chocolate mint ice cream.
Public television was our hero tonight. While eating, we watched Rick Steves’s and Burt Wolf’s travelogues of Ireland, topped off with a Celtic Woman performance. Hoolie graced us with her own 6-year old’s version of Irish dancing. We had a drawing for a pot of gold that I crafted this afternoon (Hoolie was the winner,) and then took a second one over to Em’s house.
I know it’s too late for this year, but here’s how I made the pots of gold. I did an online search and found many variations on this pot, too many to just give credit to one. I bought the terra cotta pot, gold alphabet stickers, “I’m Irish and Proud” ribbon, green sparkly tissue paper, and gold-wrapped Hershey candies at Walmart.
The round “Kiss me” cutouts were found on the website How Does She? They can be found here.
It’s now 12:12 a.m., the Irish boy is zonked on the couch, and it's technically March 18, but I hope all of you had a very green St. Patrick’s Day!
P.S. Cousin Jill: I know you are as insanely Irish as I am. Care to tell us what you did today?