Monday, March 24, 2008

Hooray for St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick’s Day and Easter fell in the same week this year. One holiday has a lot to do with food – chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, hard-boiled eggs, marshmallow eggs, and other unnaturally colored confections are a huge part of Easter.

The other holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, has nothing to do with food. OK, technically green beer is a food, but I don’t know anyone who wakes up to a basketful of green beer, and I’ve never heard of St. Patrick hiding beer bottles in the grass for the kids to find. (Well, maybe some fraternities do that. It’s been a while since I’ve been to college.) Alright, and maybe there are a few people out there who actually cook corned beef and cabbage for dinner, but really – you have to admit, St. Pat’s food just isn’t worth getting that excited for.

And yet, St. Patrick’s Day is still fun – it’s all about wearing green clothes, pinching those who forgot, talking in silly accents, and playing Irish music (the louder, the better). Even my son’s school, which has a school uniform, let kids replace the uniform with something green on St. Patrick’s Day.

That got me thinking about holidays that aren’t closely associated with food. There aren’t many of them. Let’s see… Martin Luther King Jr.’s Day, April Fool’s Day, Earth Day, Arbor Day, Columbus Day, Veteran’s Day. That’s about it. And most of those we celebrate primarily with big sales at furniture stores.

Everything else is all about food – brunches, barbecues, cherry pies, candy, family feasts. We do love to celebrate the big things in life by eating, don’t we? It’s not the kind of thing you think about, unless you spend way too much time thinking about food to begin with. Like us allergy-concerned types.

So holidays and food are just an inseparable pairing we have to live with. It means each holiday has that extra bit of stress, that extra amount of work to cook from scratch, that extra expense to order the “safe” foods from online sources, that heightened worry as we venture into someone else’s home. It means holidays, already stressful to begin with, strain us that much more.

But for our kids’ sakes, we still find ways to have fun. We strive to make the day seem normal, effortless, and special. And often we think no one appreciates what we go through. But just now, I asked my son what I should say about Easter in my blog, and he said, “You can talk about how everything the Easter Bunny brought me was safe, just for me! I got safe chocolate bunnies, safe chocolate eggs, safe candy in my eggs, safe white chocolate chickies, and really fun toys!”

He DID notice. He DID appreciate it.

And suddenly it doesn’t seem like food-centric holidays are quite as bad, after all.

Of course, I’m still voting for St. Patrick’s Day as my favorite holiday of the year. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go put some Irish music in the CD player…

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