Of all the things New York City does best, holiday celebrations undoubtedly take the crown. Not only does the entire city embrace each holiday with lavish decorations, preparatory festivities, parades, and themed shows, menus and drinking deals–we don’t discriminate. There’s as much hype for Valentine’s Day as there was for St. Patrick’s Day and as there will likely be for Easter and even Cinco de Mayo. The city is a melting pot of its own and every culture is widely celebrated. I danced with German’s in leiter hosen at Oktoberfest just like I three-stepped with Irish in kilts yesterday. (And for my birthday we unite in little black dresses all around).
Don’t get me wrong, nothing beats Christmas in New York City (except the visibly roomier sidewalks on January 2nd), but watching busy city slickers slow down and appreciate even the holidays that don’t halt mail or school is our big bonus. Yesterday Nugget and I began our St. Patrick’s Day with a green bagel on a sunny porch–he in a green sweater and I, a green top. We watched tourists and locals alike buzz about the parade in “I [shamrock] NY” shirts and green beaded necklaces. The day before we were running in misty, windy rain reminiscing about last year’s St. Patty’s Day 5K and coveting my friends’ spring break trips. (And today, March 18, New York City is warmer than Orlando…by two proud degrees.)
We walked 20 or 30 blocks in the sun before meeting some work friends at the Central Park side of the parade, where families were having picnics and play days all over the hastily re-growing grass. I used to love this day in Nashville: the first warm, sunny afternoon after a relentless winter. My friend Andrea and I would corral our lazy friends for frisbee and football at Centennial Park regardless of classes or work. That relieved happiness you can’t resist on such a beautiful day, when you haven’t had many beautiful days recently, was felt all around. I suspect many of the parade goers were playing hooky, and I commend them for it. I myself couldn’t believe I had the day off with my luck.
And here I must recognize the significance of the many bagpipes in the parade. Nothing brings meaning and reflection to a ceremony like bagpipes; that’s why Lipscomb used such entertainment for every formal affair. My family loved the bagpipes at my graduation. Not only because we have Scottish relatives, or because we always think of my grandma’s love for them, but because there’s a unique solemn quality to the sound that draws silent attention. Very few things draw silent attention in New York, but you could see what it meant to the hundreds of Irish people to have their heritage and culture respected.
And little red-headed Irish tikes got a glimpse of where they came from alongside hundreds of their kind. My family’s plain American; we have a little bit of several European influences, but no particular background. I envied this celebration of identity, but then again I exploited it to party just like I did when the Yankees won the world series. (You should’ve seen me celebrate having never been a fan–of any baseball–before. Go Yanks!) Likewise, yesterday you would’ve thought I ate potatoes my entire life for how excited I was over that green bagel. I love this city.