That's Life: Celebrate the Day, Hold the Green

By Phyllis McGuireiBerkshires Columnist
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I pray that my husband Bill is not turning over in his grave. It is St. Patrick's Day and I am not wearing green.

When Bill and I married 50 years ago,  I became a member of a clan composed of Patricks, Dennises, Maureens, Kathleens ... there is even a Tara. They seized every opportunity to gather for a party and spin tall tales.

I still don't know if Bill's oldest sister, Madeline, really had been a dance hall hostess when her future husband, Joe, first met her, according to the story their sons told. The truth went with Madeline and Joe to their graves.
When I met Madeline, she was a God-fearing woman who was thrown into a tizzy if her children or my Bill, who lived with her and her family after his mom died, was not ready on time for Sunday Mass.

I have Irish ancestors on my mother's side, too. My grandmother Mary Murphy emigrated to the United States during the famous potato famine in Ireland. Here in the United States, Mary married a handsome Italian immigrant named John Rizzo, and so my Irish blood was watered down, you might say, by tomato sauce. Truth be told, I ate more spaghetti and meatballs as a child than any Irish dishes.

Because I will be attending a St. Patrick's dinner and dance on March 22, I will be celebrating St. Patrick's Day late this year.

I have already bought a ticket and am looking forward  to an enjoyable evening with the other revelers. There is a problem, however: What will I eat? None of the Irish fare in the buffet dinner appeals to me. I would go for the baked chicken with County Cork country gravy, but I don't know what that gravy contains. My search on Google has been fruitless.

I am a terribly fussy eater, I admit, and I also need to follow a restricted diet if I don't want to suffer the consequences. Gastrointestinal upsets and allergic reactions can send me to the doctor's office or the emergency ward.

I want to attend the dinner dance and don't mind paying the price of a ticket, but now I am struggling with how I can survive. Several times I have fasted for a day preparing for a colonoscopy and once while waiting for medical attention in an emergency room, I did without lunch or dinner, but I want to have fun at the St. Patrick's party - you know, socialize and maybe even belt out an Irish ditty or do a jig on the dance floor, and for that you need energy.

Do I dare stash a sandwich in my handbag and discreetly nibble on it when everyone else is at the buffet tables filling their plates with corn beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread and more?
I don't like green desserts so I would also have to bring a piece of pound cake to have with my tea — I hope the tea isn't green.

I will be wearing, God willing, a green shamrock necklace, which should please my dear departed husband William Michael McGuire.

For now, I wish all the Irish on earth and in heaven, a Happy St. Patrick's Day.

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