Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Top of the morning to you! And a chilly morning it is here in New Jersey! The kids and I nearly froze our Blarney stones off waiting for the school bus this morning! Although my husband and I have a fair amount of Irish ancestry between us, we don't really have many Irish customs in our home. However, we've got a few St. Patrick's Day traditions the kids would mutiny over if we forgot them. First, the kids dress themselves head to toe in green. It may not be the most flattering color, but they earn points for enthusiasm. Their lunch boxes hold green finger Jello (aka Jello Jigglers and Knox Blocks) shamrocks wrapped in waxed paper. Why the waxed paper? Because that's how my mom sent finger jello in my lunch box. Finally, no Saint Patrick's Day goes by without a reading of Fin M'Coul. I know there are a number of versions of this story in print, but I prefer Tomie dePaolas's for the little tiny fairies and sheep hidden on every page and because I relate to " the great lovely lass, Oonagh," Fin's giant wife in this telling of the story. I've been five feet seven inches since the eighth grade and have a number of short girlfriends. In college one friend's dad referred to me as "the big girl." So, you can imagine how I root for Oonagh as she cleverly outwits the mean giant Cucullin. She dresses Fin up as a baby and passes him off as her child, saying to Cucullin who plans to beat him up, "That may not be as easy as you think. Fin M'Coul's a big broth of a man. Why, take a look at our little baby and you might be gettin' an idea of the strength and breadth of Fin himself." Of course I always deliver Oonagh's lines in my best brogue. Last week I was the guest reader in my daughter's class, giving my best thick as soda bread brogue, praying that the three Irish women from my book club with kids in the same school weren't in the hallways and thanking goodness my friends Marjorie and Patrick live in Dublin far from my performance. I fear they might all have cringed at the inauthenticity. But, like my kids self styled in green today, hopefully I get some points for enthusiasm. Have a fantastic day in whatever way you celebrate!

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