There are all kinds of St. Patrick’s Day activities in town today but I have no plans to attend any of them. I am making Irish oatmeal for breakfast, and I am wearing a green shirt. I might pop up to the cafe for lunch, to get some corned beef & cabbage. I’m a little less than half Irish, on my mom’s side, and I’m proud to be Irish and appreciate my heritage, but I’ve never been into the whole shamrocks and leprechauns thing, not for a while.
When I was a kid, growing up in Vermont, we used to watch the St. Patrick’s Day parade from NYC on Channel 11 (WPIX, which also had Popeye cartoons and Gilligan’s Island re-runs). I went to school at the parochial school associated with our church, which was the Irish Catholic one, so we colored shamrocks and such. I remember wearing little green plastic shamrock pins, and singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”. ( In retrospect I find it interesting that, in spite of the fact that we had genuine Irish nuns at the school, including the music teacher, we never learned any real Irish songs.)
As an adult, I’ve never gone in for the green beer, pub crawl aspect of St. Patrick’s Day. When my kids were younger we’d read some fun Irish-themes picture books and make Irish Soda Bread (of course I get into the food aspects!) . Beyond that, I don’t do much to mark the day. My ancestors came over to America to escape poverty, famine, and religious oppression. They faced some tough times in America but prospered through hard work and perseverance. They remembered their heritage and took pride in it, they remained true to their faith, but they were also very proud to be US citizens. As am I. I’d love to visit Ireland someday, though.
Interesting note: I grew up in Vermont, and in the small city I lived in, there were 3 Catholic churches: one built by the Irish Catholic immigrants, one built by the French Catholic ones, and one built by the Italian Catholics. Early on all three had parochial grade schools associated with them; by the time I was in junior high school (as it was still called in those days) only one of the schools was still open– at the Irish one. It’s still around today.