Luck o’ the Italians By Angela Girardi

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It may sound strange coming from an Italian girl like me, but St. Patrick’s
Day is one of my favorite holidays. When I was 14, my Aunt Theresa married
a Scottish gentleman who wore a kilt and played the bagpipes. Before long,
my Aunt was also wearing a kilt and playing the bagpipes. Every year on our
birthdays, my brother and I would get a call where “Happy Birthday” was
played on the bagpipes over the phone. Aunt Theresa and Uncle Raymond
played the bagpipes at my college graduation party, at my brother’s
engagement party, at my parents’ anniversary. It became a running joke
that we were the only Italian family that had bagpipes at every party!
As much as they enjoyed these little cameo appearances, there was nothing
they loved more than their annual St. Patrick’s Day pilgrimage to Fifth
Avenue for the big parade. They marched as members of the NYC
Department of Corrections Pipe Band every year, weather and their age be
damned! After the parade they would trek down to Gene’s Restaurant in the
West Village, where the staff knew them by name (“So nice to see you, Mr.
and Mrs. Cook”). Still in their kilts, they would enjoy dinner and drinks
followed by the management’s annual request for them to play their
bagpipes for the restaurant’s bar patrons. Their renditions of “Danny Boy”
and “Amazing Grace” did not disappoint, with everyone on their feet and not
a dry eye in the house!
We lost Uncle Raymond in January of 2010. Sadly, we didn’t know that the
last St. Patrick’s Day with him would be the last. And although it’s not the
same without him, we still watch the parade every year and smile at the
memory of the joyous celebration Uncle Raymond turned every St. Patrick’s
Day into.
Don’t forget to make your own celebration memorable. Order your St.
Patrick’s Day balloons today!