My maiden name is Pogue, which means kisses in Gaelic. I grew up knowing that I was part Irish, Scottish, French, English and Choctaw. It is a strange combination to be sure. My granny, on my mother’s side, has dark black hair, and an olive complexion. Her Native American roots run deep in her genetics; however, my father who is of Irish/ Scottish decent has a much paler pallor and bright red hair. I somehow inherited the best of both worlds. I have high Native American cheekbones, with dark auburn hair, and pale skin that can turn to a dark glow, but only after hours and hours of sunbathing. Since my heritage, like most Americans is so varied, I latched on to only two cultures, Irish and Choctaw.
I became enthralled with Ireland as a child. I spent hours gazing at pictures of its lush green countryside and timeless cottages. I often imagined living inside the pictures, a native of Ireland. Perhaps that is why I have made Saint Patrick’s Day a real experience for my children. While we have always worn green, or eaten at authentic Irish restaurants on that day, my favorite memory of Saint Patrick’s Day was a day planned with my children and celebrated with our family.
That year we were still home schooling our children. We were teaching by units, and since Saint Patrick’s Day was fastly approaching, I decided to take that time to study one part of our family ancestry. The children were excited to learn about Ireland, and were even more excited when we decided to throw a party with their grandparents.
The kids made Irish flag placemats, shamrocks of various sizes, and a paper chain rainbow that began at the wall and ended inside a black cauldron full of chocolate gold coins. They loved making all of those decorations, but they still felt like we needed more. So, I cut out green and black construction paper and made large leprechaun hats. The kids decorated the paper buckles with golden glitter. During our party they wore their hats proudly, and insisted that my husband, their grandparents and I wore our own hats during our Irish feast.
The kids not only helped make decorations, but they learned about Irish cuisine. They helped me make shepherd’s pie, cabbage, strawberry and rhubarb pies, and a chocolate potato cake. It was amazing to watch history, folk tales and family stories come alive that day.
I have always wanted to have another family ancestry party, but as the children have aged our lives seem busier than ever. Maybe this year we can do it again; although, nothing will ever compare to seeing my children wear oversized leprechaun hats above strawberry and rhubarb smeared faces.
“As you slide down the banister of life, may the splinters never face the wrong way!”
-Anonymous Irish Proverb