Two full days of doing nothing but lying on my couch and watching the Cartoon Network with a steady stream of sweat cascading down my face. Two days of alternating between restless naps and dazed stumbles to the facilities. Two days.
There is glory in this.
St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday this year — today, to be more precise. This means I have an entire weekend to purify my system after my annual foray into internal toxic destruction. This could very well turn into the greatest night of my extremely charmed life, or the seminal moment that sends me spiraling into a lifetime of stuttering and utter depravity.
I’ll take my chances.
My family has historically taken the celebration of St. Patrick quite seriously. As Catholics, it is a time to honor the work done by St. Patrick in spreading the faith throughout Ireland, as well as his ingenuity in using the shamrock to illustrate the concepts of the Holy Trinity. As Irish-Americans, it has also morphed into a day in this country to celebrate all things Irish, and to carouse and act like mouth-breathing pickleheads for an entire day without any feelings of guilt or remorse.
Basically, we get to behave like Kennedys for a day — and nobody can stop us.
But there is also another element to St. Patrick’s Day, and it is perhaps as important as any other in terms of understanding the significance we place on the celebration. It centers around pride in ancestry, and individual honor in feeling as though one is part of a tribe.
That’s a basic human element, isn’t it? The feeling of belonging? As much as we like to trumpet our own horns by saying we need to feel like individuals, and we don’t want our creativity stifled by “The Man,” we continually look for groups of people we can both be identified with and rally around.
We see this everywhere. From wearing the colors of our favorite sports teams, to absorbing body piercings just like our friends’ to joining different groups on the Internet, we try to become known as belonging to certain circles, and we search for others who share our beliefs.
Think about it. If you’re a Democrat, do you listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch Fox News to hear the other side of an issue? No, you prefer to listen to other people who think exactly as you do — a way to re-affirm your own beliefs. Republicans do the same thing. We are simply drawn to things and people that make us comfortable. For many of us Irish-American Catholics, that means wearing the green, and listening to flutes and fiddles and sucking down enough dark beer and whiskey to knock out that giant raccoon behind our office. And, for the record, I finally have a witness to Leviathan, as Bob Bertram now gives me updates on his position before I leave the office at night. Together, if we pool together our resources, we should be able to outsmart the great raccoon and seize back ...
But (and I apparently should have had this copyrighted) I digress.
My point here is not to belittle the jelling together of unity found in social circles or St. Patrick’s Day national and religious pride. On the contrary, it is something to appreciate and celebrate. We are deep in a time that seems to only appreciate unity if it results in building barriers with those outside our social cliques. Look at street gangs, religious divisions, political parties — we build together so we can divide from the others.
But for Irish Catholics on St. Patrick’s Day, the greater the collective group, the greater the party. Everyone who is interested in being so is indeed Irish every March 17. The more the merrier — come one, come all.
There’s something pure in that. It’s similar to how many of us become Mexican at Cinco de Mayo, Brazilian at Carnivale or from the backwoods of Tennessee during a NASCAR race.
I know, I know, NASCAR fans. Our address for letters to the editor is directly to the right of this column. Gentlemen, start your pencils.
See that? I just caused a divide by that last comment. And, for that, I apologize. That goes against the very spirit of the day — not to mention the general vibe of this column — and if I could go back and delete that particular line of thought I would.
Well, I guess I could delete it. Heck, I can still delete it now if I really wanted to. Hmm ... nah, I’ll keep it in there.
Erin go bragh.