March 19, 2011

Kiss Me, I'm Irish

I celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Despite the hefty dose of Dutch in my blood, there's still a wee dram o' Irish in there, and a great big dram o' Irish in my kids. Their dad is just one generation removed from the green hills of Skibbereen, and while he's not so into the shamrocks, I've taken it upon myself to give my kids a healthy appreciation of their Irish-Americanness.

I celebrate St. Patrick's Day with food, of course, because that's how I celebrate everything. If it doesn't involve a big meal, it's simply not a celebration. Giant, comfort food holidays are the bomb. I'm a particular fan of giant, comfort food holidays that are also dirt cheap. Give me five pounds of potatoes, a big bag of carrots, a fat head of cabbage, a hefty slab of corned beef, some Dijon mustard and a fine bottle of Guinness, and I will give you a St. Patrick's Day meal that could make banshees cry. Though, um, they do that already.

It also makes my kids cry. They each like exactly one thing in this meal, and absolutely nothing else. Hence the tears. The redhead eats the meat (with ketchup), my diva eats the potatoes, and Peabo - surprisingly - gobbles up the cabbage. No protein in cabbage, so I'm not sure where that comes from.

And that's St. Patrick's Day. Big crock pot full of cheap eats, and everyone wears green. No big bouncy bunny handing out baskets full of jelly beans and chocolate. No soot-covered fat man in a red suit passing out gifts. No magic. Just corned beef, cabbage, and kids clad in green.

Except there's supposed to be leprechauns. I didn't know about the leprechauns.

The night before St. Patrick's Day my redhead was apopleptic because he doesn't have any green pajamas. Apparently there were leprechauns coming, and if he didn't have green pajamas, they'd pinch him in his sleep.

At which point I did what any good mother with a freaked out kid would do. I said they weren't real.

Wait, did I say that was a good mother move?

What I was supposed to do, as it turns out, was find the kid some green pajamas, then meet the leprechauns downstairs and help them throw sofa cushions on the floor, dye the milk green, and leave a trail of coins. When you don't know this, though, the little green guys play a trick on you and do nothing at all, leaving you with one deeply disappointed five-year-old the next morning.

So I said they weren't real. I put the kid to bed in brown pajamas. And I ruined the magic.

Did you know about the leprechauns? Because in my day it wasn't leprechauns who did the pinching. It was any budding masochist amongst your group of besties who caught you greenless. I guess in this day and age, that would be considered bullying. So pinch-happy friends have been replaced by leprechauns. Yes, even in school.

Which I found out when the redhead came home, full to bursting with news.

"Mom!" he shouted. "You were wrong! They are real!"

And he told me about green footprints on the windows and tables in the classroom, chairs upended, and chocolate coins everywhere.

The leprechauns couldn't find him at home so they came to his classroom instead.


And next year, I'll be able to help. Food and magic? Why that's almost like Christmas.

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