So, today is St. Patrick’s Day. A strange day in the American liturgy, as it were. Perhaps it is our love of cheering for the underdog, but today is the day when our country comes together to celebrate a group of people that for decades, if not at least a century, was considered one of the worst banes of our nation’s existence.
We eat traditional foods (not precisely Irish ones). We wear green (even though Patrick’s color was actually blue). And we do everything in our power, at least the grown ups, to get Irish (what my family calls rip-roaring drunk). Oh, and in non-Covid years we have some really awesome parades, too.
Now, my heritage is actually partially Irish. And I love holidays. So I’m all in. The Leprechauns visited my house last night leaving a trail of gold coins and foot prints for my sons along with green toilet water and milk (thank you Mimi for those ideas). And we will be having real Irish food for dinner – lamb shepherd’s pie.
Yet, I cannot help but pause a moment to consider some of the ironies that today holds. For all of us.
It is a fun day, to be sure. But perhaps it would be worth learning a bit of the history of the Irish in this country alongside our study of how Guiness and Smithwicks make their brews and how to make “Irish Car Bombs.”
It is a remarkable day to have so many people come together to claim a tie to one of our country’s historical “underdogs,” yet should we also consider why we do not have the same excitement for other holidays that celebrate other peoples who have had even worse experiences in our nation’s history (e.g. Juneteenth)?
This is a hard day for me personally because it was always a day my husband and I enjoyed together. And with so much of my family gone, including him, it now falls to me to figure out how to honor my ancestors who did come from the Emerald Isle, along with a whole lot of other places, while also honoring a far more important struggle within myself.
That struggle is my belief that we must always continue to do better. To be better. To honor the past while also celebrating the beauty of the present and embracing the opportunity to create a world where underdogs no longer exist.
My family came to this country looking for that better world. And though we have made so many, many, many missteps through the years, I still believe that there is a better world out there if we are all willing to put in the work – together.
So, perhaps there is one lesson we should all take from this ridiculous and fun holiday today: we do have a bit of the same in us. And that is something to celebrate.