I was nothing but a wee babe the first time I dragged my sister out of bed on a magical March 17th morn.
“Patty! Wake up!” With thoughts of Irish jigs and golden treasure, I shook my little sister who still slept while curled up in our shared double bed. She rubbed her eyes and brushed her auburn hair from her face.
“Let’s see if the leprechauns came last night!”
We padded out from the bedroom of the small apartment in our matching zip-up pajamas. As soon as I entered the living room, something bright caught my eye. It glimmered in the early morning sunshine and it beheld the brightest gold I’d ever seen!
“Found one!” I snatched the gold chocolate-filled coin from the top of the end table.
Patty echoed my excitement and toddled over to the other side of the long sofa. “I got one too!” She grabbed the precious gem on the matching table that an errant little person had left behind.
“Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!” Dad said. He towered over us and his strawberry crew cut made him look even taller. He leaned against the wall while sipping a cup of hot coffee and wore the wool fisherman sweater my mother had knit for him. He smiled and watched all the shenanigans.
My mom joined in the hunt and gathered the coins in her apron. Her violet eyes sparkled under a crown of raven black hair. She had explained the day before, “The leprechauns are coming tonight. They travel all the way from Ireland and will be carrying a huge pot of gold with them. Some coins may fall out and left behind.”
Once it seemed that we had found every last one of the coins, we began looking for the wee folk themselves. Patty and I searched everywhere. We peeked in closets, behind the sofa, and the scariest place of all, under our bed. We could not find any sign of the elusive creatures.
Soon the only trace of them was the gold foil that contained the delicious chocolate. I remember saving them in my jewelry box, believing they were the most precious of all metals. As I wound the key and let the old lullaby play, I was on top of the world!
After regaling my friends of our encounter with leprechauns, I didn’t understand why they hadn’t gotten a visit. Mom explained that they probably weren’t as Irish as us. We were McCartans after all.
Just as I began to doubt my belief in the little people, my brother Joe was born. The Leprechauns started dropping those gold coins on Saint Patrick’s Day once again!
Many years later, the same scene played out with my own children. They ran from room to room giggling while gathering up those coveted gold coins. As they got older, they seemed to be hidden a bit better. Sometimes I would find one propped up against a brass vase at the end of May!
Now that they are in college, the leprechauns leave a bag of coins for each of them on the kitchen counter. I even save a little stash for myself. I have always been a collector of precious metals.
Have you ever heard of “Irish Diplomacy?”
It’s the ability to tell someone to go to hell, so they look forward to the trip!
How are you planning to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?
~Erin Go Braugh~
Photos by Susie Lindau