Sunday, March 18, 2012

Erin Go Bragh!

St. Patrick, Bishop 
of Ireland

Yesterday was Saint Patrick’s Day, and we sure did celebrate at our house. Now, I don’t know how much Irish blood runs in our veins, but for all intents and purposes for the last couple of days, we bled a vivid green - 100% Irish. In the same way that I am inexplicably fascinated by all things British, Bill has been irresistably drawn to Erin and her people. I think his fascination began when they built leprechaun traps in preschool.

Now, if there was such a thing as a patron fairy of little boys, it would be leprechauns - mischievous, greedy, silly, tricky, irreverent, and ... magical. And though no leprechaun has ever left Bill a stocking full of candy and a heap of Lego sets, he has declared that St. Patrick’s Day is his favorite holiday.

Bill digs the craic at an Irish pub
Typically on March 17th at our house, nothing much happens. Bill builds an elaborate trap to catch a leprechaun, using those chocolate candies wrapped in gold foil that look like coins or Lucky Charms as bait, and after he goes to bed, a six-foot-two “leprechaun” named Tom scatters it around and writes a mocking note in green crayon. This year, though, we branched out. 

Friday I took Bill to lunch at one of those fake Irish pubs they have... and since he had no idea that the U.S. even had those, he was out of his mind with joy. And yesterday, we went to the St. Paddy’s Day parade in Raleigh. I’ve always wanted to go, but never tried hard enough to get there. This year I had an excuse. Surprising Bill brings me such joy - it’s so easy, since at this age, he has fewer preconceived notions than we do. 

At the parade
Well, that’s not exactly true... If we say, “We’re going to such and such a place,” he’s likely to yell out, “NO! I DON’T WANT TO!” But only because he’s having fun where he is, not because he’s already made up his mind he wouldn’t like where we’re going. I guess what I mean is, he doesn’t know many things exist. I mean, he knew there were pubs in Ireland, but he didn’t know there were fake ones here. And he didn’t know that there was a St. Pat’s Day parade in Raleigh, so when we walked into it... imagine his surprise!

Let me tell you, he never disappoints in that area. At the pub he couldn’t stop hugging me – he practically sat in my lap, he was so excited and grateful, and at the parade, he stared with wide eyes and a wide open mouth at the pipers and dancers and ... dogs...? dressed in Lepre-finery.
Men in kilts!

All in all, it was a joyful celebration. I’ve never been to the Emerald Isle, but from photographs and movies, I can tell it’s lovely. And part of it belongs to Great Britain, which, again, I love... the accents are lyrical, the music begat bluegrass, the writers have been prolific and poetic. Even the food is not too bad, as British food goes. And then there’s Guinness.

The Irish are a pretty important ingredient in the melting pot we live in. It’s hard to believe they were ever the object of discrimination. “Now hiring. No Irish need apply.” Say what? I guess they never met Bono... who wouldn’t hire him?

I bet they'd hire Bono...
But I digress... I guess American celebrations of Patrick’s saint day have denigrated from the celebration of a freed slave who shared the gospel with his captors, to a celebration of Irish culture ... into, well... parties. With whiskey, green beer and Kiss Me I’m Irish buttons. If we let them. Yesterday in the morning, we said the St. Patrick prayer that starts with: “I bind unto myself today / The strong Name of the Trinity, / By invocation of the same, / The Three in One and One in Three.” And I’ve already told you what we did after... Yes, I made up my mind to claim the day to dote on my son... to shower him with gifts and sweet surprises. Much like God does for me. Yes, I have written about how God grows me through trials and testing, but it has also been my experience, that He likes to charm us with astonishing, often serendipitous, curveballs. 

Like the time I was embarrassed and feeling awkward in front of a friend, and I unexpectedly saw the actor Robin Williams. Like when I quit my job at a newspaper to move to Asheville, and suddenly the exact same job came open at the Asheville paper. Or like when I asked God to heal me of my crazy thinking about food, and He gave me a husband and child. Yes, God’s surprises are big and small. Lovely and amazing... like grace.

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