Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
I almost forgot.
I’m a Mick by birth. I hope this doesn’t earn a black mark on my permanent record.
I remembered after I’d dressed this morning — in khaki and a multi-colored top that had only one trace of green in it — that I needed to wear green today. I rooted through my jewelry box until I found a rarely worn necklace with green beads. I added that and a green tank top to my ensemble and declared myself celebratory.
Irish is big around here. It’s big in a way that encourages drinking, spending money and acting crazy. We have a few annual parades organized by Irish cultural groups, but that is the extent of ethnic recognition.
As I ran my errands this morning, I noted the number of green-clad revelers wobbling along the pavement as they hopped from pub to pub. (I hope they gave their young livers notice that they would be working double-time today.)
As the descendant of Irish immigrant dairy farmers who settled on the flatlands along the Detroit River, I grew up proud of my roots. My father made a big deal out of March 17. If we didn’t make it to the annual parade, we at least had corned beef and cabbage for dinner. My mother baked several loaves of soda bread. We all wore green. My dad would drink too much beer and sing “Danny Boy.”
When I studied American history in college, I was shocked, devastated really, to learn that the Irish were not embraced upon their arrival in the United States. They were despised and treated poorly. It dulled some of the shine on my Irish pride. Since those days, aside from giving my oldest daughter an incredibly Irish name, I’ve not done much to embrace my Irish.
In fact, in the last decade, I’ve almost ignored the day altogether.
I confess: I don’t like corned beef and cabbage.
I don’t like Guinness.
I’m not a fan of “Riverdance.”
I don’t know all the words to “Danny Boy.”
I don’t even like shamrock shakes.