St. Patrick’s Day is pretty cliche in the U.S. at this stage of the game, I’d say. Between the “kiss me, I’m Irish” buttons, Kelly green t-shirts, shamrock stickers, etc., we’ve got ourselves a commercialized, mass-hyped hoLOLiday with little-to-no connection to its origins or cultural significance. But hey -- America, right?
Okay, let's take a step back. On the one hand, I think that assessment is fair and accurate, if a bit cynical. On the other hand, though -- on the Irish hand -- I think, “I don’t care, because Happy Parade Day!”
Yep, I prefer the latter view, if only because “Happy Parade Day!” is one of my favorite things to say and hear. Even just sitting here typing the words brings a smile to my face, because Parade Day -- in Binghamton, New York, I mean -- is truly one of the best days of the year.
As I’ve noted here before, Binghamton (my hometown) is struggling a bit these days. It’s a post-industrial, post-manufacturing, post-Cold-War-era community that hasn’t yet found a way to get back on its feet.
What it does have, though, is the very best St. Patrick’s Day Parade Day.
Binghamton holds its St. Patrick’s Day parade every year on the first Saturday of March, which means that the weather can be -- and often is -- interesting. I recall snowy Parade Days, rainy Parade Days, gorgeous, sunny Parade Days, and most everything in between.
(...such as your author rockin' a fumanchu)
What never changes from year to year, though, is the quality of the company and, therefore, the good times to be had.
I, a thirty-something-year-old man, am fortunate to have a group of very good friends that dates back to high school -- even further back, in some cases. We’ve picked some up along the way, and a few others have faded from the scene over the years, but we’re intact. Being that we’re adults with our own lives to lead, we don’t keep in touch as often as we should; but each of us remains secure in the knowledge that we’re always “there.” We can pick right back up with each other, support each other when ish happens, and -- lest we forget -- party down with the best of ‘em when we all get together.
Especially on Parade Day.
Par for the course on Parade Day is that the out-of-towners straggle in the day before and get together for a few pints that evening. The morning of the Day, we assemble at a friend’s house for a feast -- she preps enough food to feed a village -- and our base layer of spirits. Some of us start right in with the Guinness or Murphy’s, others with a little Jameson, and most of us with some Bailey’s in our coffee. Eventually, we walk, en masse, the mile or so downtown to a place with a good view of the parade itself. There’s a no-open-container law on the books, but no one pays attention to that on Parade Day, as long as you’re a grown-up about it (which we mostly are, at this point). After the parade, we shuffle down to some watering hole to listen to bagpipes, watch the people, drink some more drinks, laugh our asses off, and enjoy one another’s company.
It’s us friends, together. It’s the stuff of life. It’s Parade Day.
As for me, I haven’t been able to make it back home for the past two Parade Days. I miss it and my friends dearly.
St. Patrick’s Day may have come and gone by the time you read this, and you may still be reeling a bit from the overindulgences of the day -- or your own Parade Day, for that matter. All the same, I’d like to invite you to raise a glass with me, Internet-style, in appreciation for the loved ones in our lives, the good times we’ve all had, and the good times to come.
“May your home always be too small to hold all your friends.” Slainte!
Review: Murphy’s Irish Stout
It’s good, especially on Parade Day.
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