As I fluttered my eyelids a few times while trying to wake up, I could hear my daughter had climbed into bed with us and was trying to be snuggly. I adjusted my eyes on the picture hanging on the wall, rubbed my right hand over my forehead and then through my hair as I rolled over to see my smiling four year-old staring at me.
“Good morning, Daddy!”
“Good morning, Chloe,” I mumbled as I stared exhaustedly at the ceiling. “What time is it?”
“6:45,” came a response from Stephanie who was still trying to pretend to be asleep on her side of the bed.
“Guess what, Chloe?”
“I have a surprise for you today. Go see if you’re brother is awake.” And with that pronouncement, Chloe jumped off of the bed and ran into Josh’s room. As the door slammed full force against his bedroom wall with a loud thud, I turned to Stephanie and quipped, “Josh is up now.”
Within a few moments, Josh was standing next to the bed as Chloe climbed back up on the bed and sat between Stephanie and me. “Josh is awake, Daddy. What’s the surprise?”
“The surprise is that no one’s going to work or school today! We are all ‘sick’!”
The Boston area has a holiday every year on March 17th called Evacuation Day which basically means the schools are closed. Regardless of what they call the day, I know it is a holiday that allows people living in and around Boston to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Our schools are just outside of Suffolk County and therefore, our children didn’t have a Holiday on the 17th. Norfolk County does not recognize Evacuation Day as a legal holiday.
So a week ago, Stephanie and I decided that our family was going to join the people of Boston to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I am an American of Irish descent. If there is going to be a day to celebrate our heritage, then I want my children to be involved. So we all took a mental health day from our regular routines to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a family.
Stephanie and I had read online about a Kids Festival in Boston happening on the 17th. There was going to be music, food, games and kids activities. So after a few big cups of coffee (regular, not Irish!), we boarded the T and headed for Boston. We were all excited for our big adventure but when we showed up, there was no Kids Festival to be found anywhere. We had been duped!
Stephanie and I are creative people. If Plan A fails, then quickly prepare a Plan B. So we headed for Faneuil Hall to see what might be happening in the heart of the City. After grabbing a couple of Shamrock Shakes on the walk over, we started touring the marketplace and ended up at Newbury Comics looking for sunglasses. The sunglasses we tried on were quite comical. Chloe ended up buying a pair of flip sunglasses that made her look like Dwayne Wayne, Josh ended up with a pair of glasses that appear cracked by design and although Stephanie and I didn’t buy any sunglasses, I text messaged a few people a photo of me wearing some “beer goggles” for St. Patrick’s Day.
After our shopping excursion, it was time to head over to Ned Devine’s Irish Pub for lunch and music. We were able to get a table right in front of the band from Ireland (The Arbour Men) and had the most enjoyable time just singing, laughing and playing table games with the kids.
Chloe asked me if she could request a song, so I wrote down the title on a piece of paper for her. When the band was between ballads, Chloe marched up to the front of the room and handed in her request. The lead singer tried to banter with Chloe but when he singled her out in front of the crowd, she got all shy and climbed into my lap to hide. Without any further fanfare, The Arbour Men immediately played Chloe’s request, “The Rattlin’ Bog.”
During The Arbour Men’s break, we bought a copy of their CD and chatted with the band. Every member of The Arbour Men signed the CD for Chloe and Josh and they all posed for photos with the kids. I spoke briefly with a couple of the band members about Dublin and their trip to the States before they had to head back on stage. It was an afternoon of great food and fun that was made so much more special for my kids because of the interactions they had with the members of The Arbour Men.
When we got home in the latter part of the afternoon, we were not done celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. We immediately called Chloe’s godmother, Angie, and made plans to meet her for dinner at the Snug Pub in Hingham. When we finally met up at the Snug, we ran into many more friends and continued to have a wonderful day of Irish music, Irish food, as well as great times with family and friends.
I spend a lot of time trying to teach my children about Ireland as well as exposing them to the culture of our ancestors and our day spent celebrating our heritage was another page in their education. Stephanie and I have worked very hard to teach our children about the importance of family and spending time together creating memories. On St. Patrick’s Day, we had the fortunate opportunity to reinforce both lessons in a fun filled day that will be remembered forever.
It will also be remembered as the day that Chloe starting speaking to us with her newly found Irish brogue that has had us in stitches for the past week. It was an amazing St. Patrick’s Day and just what the doctor ordered for our self imposed family ‘sick day!’
Me thinks a new family tradition has been born!