Giving thanks for St. Paddy’s Day

Published 10:19 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013

While many view March 17 as a green-hued, beer-soaked day that makes pinching strangers and friends alike a sanctioned pastime, I have a different take on St. Patrick’s Day. And, no, it has nothing to do with snakes.

Growing up, I rarely saw my grandmother. She lived in Northern Vermont, an area that was under snow for most of the major holidays. So while I equate Thanksgiving and Christmas with spending much-needed time with family, my grandmother was sadly left out of most holiday memories. Except for one holiday.

Every March 17, we would string an assortment of vacation days and teacher workdays together to make the trip to grandmother’s house, where she would treat us to her world-famous corned beef and cabbage. This was not the limp, salty cafeteria fare touted as part of a special “St. Paddy’s Day Meal” at my school. My grandmother’s corned beef and cabbage was so deliciously belly- and heart-warming that I still aspire to recreate it every year.

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But beyond the food — did I mention the Irish soda bread that was provided to sop up extra broth? — St. Patrick’s Day at my grandmother’s house became a time to catch up on all the holidays we had missed.

In fact, our St. Paddy’s Day tradition always involved us each naming one thing we were thankful for, a tradition generally meant for Thanksgiving. To this day, I still view St. Paddy’s Day as a day to give thanks for what you have.

When I arrived to work at my former job on March 17, 2010 — only mildly peeved that I would be working on my treasured holiday, instead of having the day off — I soon found that I no longer had that job. But I remembered my grandmother’s tradition, and I counted the things I was thankful for.

I went home, made my third attempt at perfecting my grandmother’s corned beef and cabbage — I’m almost there! — and spent much-needed time with my then-fiancé. Eventually, the events of the day turned into a blessing, when they led me to the Suffolk News-Herald and a new job. I now count it and many of the people and businesses that make up Suffolk as things that I am thankful for.

Which is why it’s exciting to see many of them featured in Saturday’s Shamrock Stroll, an event created to showcase the wonderful shops, museums, galleries and eateries that make Downtown Suffolk a pleasure to travel to every day.

The festivities offer a great opportunity to show local businesses that you are thankful for what they offer to the community. You can catch breakfast at The Plaid Turnip, peruse the many items available for purchase at the Shooting Star Gallery and grab dinner at Harper’s Table. Special events, deals and discounts are planned throughout the day.

And you still have all day Sunday to perfect your own corned beef and cabbage recipe.