It’s getting close. One week away. St. Patrick’s Day falls smack in the middle of a month of madness. Growing up an Irish Catholic in Northwest Indiana, March was a month of basketball, snow and celebration.
The Hannons did St. Patrick’s Day right. We gathered with extended family at my grandparents’ house to eat corned beef and cabbage, a notably more American tradition than Irish, but a tradition nonetheless. (It was not until I moved to Southern Indiana that I realized that dispensation wasn’t automatically granted to eat corned beef if St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Friday during Lent.) Television stations aired images of the Chicago River dyed emerald green with the addition of orange coloring. Everyone wore green - regardless of their heritage - to avoid being pinched.
These traditions continue with my family today. I prepare the traditional Irish American meal and wear green as many people do. But a new tradition has evolved, thanks in part to the involvement of Holy Rosary Totten Hall: the annual appearance of the leprechaun.
Standing 2-3 feet tall, leprechauns are mischievous creatures who are quick-witted, highly intelligent and will do anything to evade capture from humans. Not unlike a blonde-headed four-year-old who attended Holy Rosary Totten Hall almost a decade ago.
Unbeknownst to the teachers there, traditional folklore states that the leprechaun can only be found in Ireland, in rural areas away from the general population. Burrowed deep in underground caves, they find safety away from humans who seek to capture them to be granted three wishes.
On March 17, 2009, my son came home with tales rivaling anything written in Irish mythology. A leprechaun had been in their classroom leaving havoc in its path. No one saw the creature, but the overturned chairs, spilled crayons and glittery footsteps were substantial evidence pointing to proof of existence.
The precarious creature captured the imagination of my son. Tales of the leprechaun’s reign of destruction continued throughout the afternoon and evening.
As bedtime approached, my son came to me with a look of extreme concern on his face.
A leprechaun had been in his room; every book pulled off his bookshelf, every toy removed from its place in the toy box. Clothes were strewn haphazardly around on the floor. With a look of confusion on my face, I asked how this could have happened. Without skipping a beat, my son answered, “It must have been the leprechaun.” His blue eyes twinkled, as his great-grandfather’s Irish eyes did generations before him.
He stuck to his story as he straightened up the trail of destruction and settled down for bed, leading us as parents to a teachable moment concerning telling lies. It remains a tale for the ages in our home.
To all of my Irish brethren (and on St. Patrick’s Day everyone's Irish…), may the leprechauns only bring you luck this year as we celebrate!
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.