March 17, 2005

How green is your blood?

Believe it or not, Kansas City holds one of the nation’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade (I believe I have seen the words “3rd largest” associated with it in the past). Lucky (?) for me, the parade passes right by Big Al’s KC Lair. While Big Al is warning us to not leave the premises because of heightened security, blah, blah, I am hoping to at least peek my head out.* At a minimum, it will be fun to see all of Big Al’s protection officers go ape$hit with all the drunks hanging around the place. The officers spend the whole day paroling the perimeters and you just KNOW this is their least favorite day of the year. I may sound lighthearted about this, but these dudes are serious – we have a firing range in our basement and they certify every month! Hands down, this is the safest environment I have ever worked in – often, my freakin’ lunch is scanned. How’s that for security?

This day is always ironic for me because I grew up knowing very little of my Irish heritage. I always knew about it from my mom’s side, but not much from my dad’s. My dad only started really getting into it only when I was in high school. In fact, my grandma would never even admit we had Irish ancestors – I grew up thinking my Olathe Grandma's maiden surname was a GERMAN name. No kidding! When I joined the Catholic Church in my mid 20s, suddenly, my grandma started telling me stories of relatives having come over in the late 1800s and how they had a falling out with the Church. I started receiving pieces of Catholic memorabilia that had come from these Irish Catholic relatives – never before knowing we even had Catholics in our family (I thought I was the first!). Wow – I knew my dad's side of the family was a bit repressed, but this was taking the cake. However, now that I am older, I know better than to ask the reason for all the secrecy because I suspect it is this – much like being Native American** could be considered shameful in the early 1900s, so could being Irish Catholic. My grandma’s father was already bringing the family enough shame as a bootlegger during Prohibition, I can see why her own mother would want to hide any more stigma.***

So these are the things that I think of on St. Patrick’s Day – how far our country has come that we CELEBRATE our varied heritages – even if some of the festivities are not very respectful and quite silly in nature.

Anyway, have a great St. Patrick’s Day!
-Cagey (American-made from Irish parts)

* I am still resentful I won’t get to see my dad march in another parade in his drunken state resplendent in kilted finery.
** We still don't know which tribe one of my great, great grandmothers was from because it was so steeped in secrecy.
*** Of course, my generation of cousins thinks it is SO COOL that our great-grandfather was a bootlegger. Much to my grandma’s and her siblings' chagrin!!!

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