Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The St. Patrick's Day Gift

You are dying to know what the number one question cocktail waitresses get asked while working, aren't you? I thought so. I'm sure recently there have been many "Has this job improved your golf score?" or other more crude Tiger references. But if you are me, the number one question you would receive while working in a bar is:

"What's your heritage?"

Usually this is followed by something lame like, "Whatever it is, it's working." Just so I don't feel like I am extraordinarily odd-looking. Which is what this question makes me feel like. If I were even just four inches braver, I would adopt an accent and pretend not to speak English. 

Anyway, my "heritage" is that my dad's side is Latvian/Lithuanian (I usually just say Russian because it's easier and that's the language they speak there,) and came to America by way of South Africa. My mom's side is a combination of French, English and Irish and came to America by way of Canada. Confusing, yes. (I distinctly remember my parents explaining this combination to me using post-its in the shape of oranges to display pie charts with fractions.) Conflicting, yes. My dad's side is Jewish and my mom's side is Catholic, which essentially means that no one other than my parents has ever gotten along, and that my knowledge of religious events is based on the holiday calendar. Hence the obsession with gift giving, I guess. 

You might notice that the holidays celebrated in this blog so far are heavy on the Christian side. And this is because there are very few true blowout holidays in the Jewish calendar. Give a kid the choice between a hard candy made of sesame seeds and honey or a Cadbury egg and the clear loser here is Passover. And this is before the seven hour dinner where you only eat in hour six, and the week of no bread. This is not to say that I don't appreciate the Jewish side of things, and I actually love that I was given total freedom to experience all the great parts of each. Just when it comes to holidays, I certainly lean a little more on Christmas, St. Patrick's Day and Easter. I am not ashamed to admit that this is for the presents. 

So, given that part of my "heritage" (and I say this in quotes because it now reminds me of drunk men betting on which country I herald from,) is Irish and that this Irishness comes from my mom, celebrating St. Patrick's Day has become a little ritual between my mom and I. This, however, was a long road. When I was little, my mom would make corned beef and cabbage for all of us and give us each a little token, like a sticker or a handkerchief. I loved that part, but hated The Chieftains record my parents would play and claimed it made me dizzy and nauseous. One time, we went to a parade or a St. Patty's festival or something with a crowd to celebrate. I was around six years old and clearly did not know what was going on. My mom gave me a "Kiss Me I'm Irish" button to wear and I burst out crying. My mom was insulted and thought I was rejecting my Irish decendency. But really I was just picturing hundreds of strangers rushing up to kiss me and it freaked me out. 

I'm not sure when this changed - maybe when I realized that wearing a button that says "Kiss Me I'm Irish" does not mean you are asking for sexual assault, or maybe when I realized that The Chieftains do not induce illness of their own accord, and that Dropkick Murphys are delightful. However it happened, I now fully embrace St. Patrick's Day flair. For the past four years, my mom has sent me a box of Thin Mints (green box, get it?) with a card. If I see her in person, I get a loaf of soda bread too. One time she sent me shamrock stickers but the postal service hijacked them and I never got them. This is one example in a long battle between me and the USPS. 

Anyway, this year, I found green amazingness in the dollar bins at Target and decided to send one of each to my mom and my best friend K, who is Irish in full. I found a sparkly green headband for K and some socks for my mom. I bought one of each for myself as well. Then I went to the post office and waited for 45 minutes to send my presents out and was greeted by the most unpleasant postal worker I have encountered yet. I tried to be nice. I tried to be assertive. I failed on both accounts and wound up asking which kind of delivery she had chosen for me too quickly for me to see. Obviously the slowest one. So I have no idea if these presents got there on time. 

Undaunted, today I sent K a multi-media text message that looked like this:


And my mom a message that looked like this:

Kissy feet!

(If you can't tell, the socks say "Kiss Me I'm Irish." The pink blob is lips.) I have clearly come a long way in my road to embracing my "heritage." I have no fear of strangers tumbling forward to kiss my feet. Because that would be weird.

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