Today is my favorite holiday of the year.
I cannot quantify why. Like the smell of peat burning or the taste of Jameson, you feel it’s good; you don’t measure it. Of course, that’s not wholly satisfying for a blog entry. So, let this lad offer a whole host of competing explanations, though I feel like any Irish blessing, it’s what you make of it.
Maybe it’s because as a kid I remember spending at least one full morning traipsing around a park in Chicago looking for a four leaf clover; another chasing the end of a rainbow.
Maybe it’s because my mom made such a big deal of it when I was a kid. Dressed in green and bouncing around, she made Irish soda bread, potatoes, green dishes (including jello) and a whole bunch of other food I smiled at more than ate 🙂
Maybe it’s due to another great influence on me when I was a child: my ‘Aunt Mary.’ A woman who was more Irish than the Cliffs of Moher. My babysitter growing up, she was about the sweetest and kindest woman I can remember as a child. Of course, she also somehow was related to the entire country of Ireland and city Chicago. Her kindness and well, just general wonderfulness, epitomized the Irish spirit.
Maybe it’s because my family has always had connections to family friends in Ireland-something that made me feel like the country was never geographically far away.
Maybe it’s because my birthday is three days away and you know, I didn’t want to tell people “yeah my birthday is right next to the Ides of March.”
Maybe it’s because of Shamrock shakes.
Maybe it’s because one of my favorite stories associated with Poland is still connected with me leaving from Ireland. I was leaving from the Dublin airport and I saw two Polish carpenters a few spots ahead of me in the security checkpoint. I was not sure what was going on other than some commotion. Finally, I heard a very thick-accented Irish security guard saying, “I do not care if they are new, you cannot bring a drill on or any power tools onto the plane.”
Maybe it’s because every time I hear “On Raglan Road” by the Dubliners I lean back and smile. Something about Irish music moves you.
Maybe it’s because I couldn’t decide between green and blue as a favorite color as a child. The fact that this green was everywhere-including the Chicago river-seemed all that much better.
Maybe it’s because of the spirit. I already mentioned the song, but this truly is the spirit and the song.
Maybe it’s because wherever I travel in the world, I know a pub I find comfortable is waiting for me.
Maybe it’s because one of my first memories of traveling was flying to Ireland and seeing snowcapped peaks and thinking, “that’s pretty flipping cool.”
Maybe it’s because March Madness-the best sporting event in the world-is always going on right now.
Maybe it’s because on this day, I feel completely taken by my (majority) Irish heritage. The other days may be dominated by my Polish and Scottish making me a uniquely proud American, but today somehow exudes that Emerald-ness.
Maybe it’s because today, it doesn’t even matter about heritage: everyone is invited to use the gift of gab that the people of Ireland represent.
Maybe it’s because IanHappy and Guinness both have eight letters. And with that in mind, the pubs once more.
Maybe it’s because I too, do not like snakes.
Maybe it’s because my friend-from Northern Ireland originally-taught me how to count to 33 1/3 only by drawing a tree and some things next to it.
Maybe it’s because it seems like the luck.
Maybe it’s because deep down inside, it has nothing to do with alcohol: it has to do with an ability to express yourself as freely and willingly as James Joyce would have wanted.
I don’t know: maybe it’s all of the above or none of the above. But I know today’s my favorite holiday. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.