I love Irish music and culture. Aside from that, I’m married to a man who’s part Irish, and I birthed two children with their father’s Irish blood running through their veins. I’m a fan…really!
So my reason for this blog isn’t any dislike on my part of the everyone-is-Irish holiday. On the contrary, it’s St. Patty’s Day that doesn’t like me! Starting in my youth, weird things have stalked me on that day.
- Episode #1: age 8, local volunteer fire company’s annual corned beef and hash fund-raiser. Like the good citizen my mom was, she took me and my sister (probably because we could fill up on the cheap). I remember eating, a lot, then stuffing my face with pale-green after-dinner mints. Severe stomach cramps followed. Several hours later I was being wheeled into surgery with that disgusting gas-mask over my face. Before the night was out. I was minus my appendix.
- Episode #2: seventh grade. March 17 fell on a Friday, and the school cafeteria was serving only fish on Fridays in deference to those observing Lent. Bad news for me. I hate fish. The only way I can eat fish is if it’s first submerged in a tub of thick, gooey batter, then dumped in a deep fryer to obliterate any remnant of the taste of actual fish. On that particular day, even the school’s unhealthiest fish fry didn’t sit well in my stomach, and shortly after lunch I made my way to consult the school nurse, who promptly sent me back to class. I won’t paint a picture of the trauma that ensued, but be assured that it wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t something I endured in private. No, the boys in the class, wanna-be town criers, were more than happy to share my humiliation with rest of the student population. Needless to say, I can still hear them.
The weirdness followed me through the years, although thankfully my stomach seems to have grown a steel liner since my youth. Still, my body wasn’t totally spared. Later incidents covered the gamut from a broken toe to a broken friendship.
After a while I began to break out into a sweat when I flipped the calendar from February to March and realized the day approached. As I grew into adulthood, I decided a best defense was a good offense, and I found ways to cushion myself from the plague of March 17th. It became easier when the children came along – they’re always good to help you forget the date (as well as the day of the week, the month and the year!).
So there are some of my more effective coping strategies (or mind games I play with myself). They've kept me relatively unscathed in the past decade or so.
- Don’t eat anything green on St. Patrick’s Day, especially after-dinner mints. You’re only asking for trouble.
- Wear heavy-duty shoes, preferably steel-toed. You never know when you’re going to drop a brick on your foot.
- Pay your tithe to the spirits of St. Patty’s Day happy and greet everyone with “Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!” If they beat you to it, respond with: “And the rest o’ the day to yerself!”
- If you’re a politically correct kind of person and don’t want to tick off any of your Irish Catholic friends/co-workers/bosses, do NOT wear orange on St. Patty’s Day. It goes back to the days of the 17th Century when King William of Orange defeated King James. You can read more here.
Even with these protective layers in place, when the calendar rolls around the 17th this month, you can count on me lying low, wearing some neutral color, drinking broth throughout the day, and praying to all the saints that I survive the holiday without some major form of embarrassment, injury or falling-out.
Happy St. Patty's Day!
A Few More Facts about St. Patrick’s Day
- St. Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was of Romano-British descent.
- March 17 marks the date of St. Patrick’s death. No wonder I’ve been plagued with curses! I always thought it was the anniversary of when he led all of Ireland’s snakes into the sea! Or was it toads? Whatever.
Leah writes stories of romance and suspense, and the enduring power of love. She blogs monthly here with her friends at Words, Women, Wisdom about mind games. Her latest story, Christmas Dance, explores the mysteries of love, marriage and parenthood.
Visit Leah at www.leahstjames.com.