Rick Houser: Got to wear that green

Rick Houser

We celebrate several holidays in a year and we celebrate them for many different reasons. The year comes in on a holiday. We honor presidents and explorers and honor our military. Those who have served their country and those who gave their life for this country and we can even celebrate our independence for which they gave the greatest Sacrifice. We celebrate religious holidays and we even celebrate a day by saying thanks for being able to celebrate all of the above.

Rick Houser

But even though we enjoy celebrating all of our holidays in so many ways and in larger and smaller enjoyments there is one I celebrated for a more personal reason. That has been Saint Patricks’ Day. That was my sister Pegs’ birthday! As time has moved forward this holiday has gained more recognition than when I was a boy back in the 50’s. Yet for me it was a very big day at our house. It was my big sisters birthday and that in itself was enough to make it special as she was and still is my reason to celebrate. She was so special in many ways.

She was twelve years older than me and watched over me in so many ways I can’t begin to name them all but I can at least pay tribute to her patience with me (I’m sure that took very much to say the least.) Peg was the one in the family who had some success in putting a little polish on me and some etiquette. I guess being the oldest she got to learn about the world first hand and passed it on to me.

Now my sister was perfect to be born on Saint Patricks’ Day. She had read hair, freckles, green eyes and I learned if messed her with she had a real temper. You see she was one fourth Irish and that name was Patrick. (Came from my mom’s mothers’ side.) Yes Peg held all the requirements to celebrate the day of the Irish. I know Peg explained to me at a very young age why I needed to wear some green on March 17th. After she pinched me a couple of times and Brother Ben pinched me also and said he was just trying to be helpful that the lesson was learned! Each year mom would bake her a cake with green Happy birthday Peggy on it. There would be some gifts given and of course a loud singing of happy birthday.

For those times this was a nice display of wishing Peg a happy birthday. But as the years went by Saint Patricks’ the holiday grew in larger celebrations and of course with commercialism it is still growing. All the years I was growing up I couldn’t understand why so many people celebrated my sister’s birthday. I mean it was on the holiday she was designed to fit the day for. In the early years very little was out there to buy to go with the saints and Pegs day all on the same day but a friend of my mom, a Lucille Duchemin from over around Marathon would spend a lot of time finding a card that wished a happy birthday on Saint Patricks’ Day. I know my sister who never acted all that interested in receiving mail would watch for this to arrive and when it did her cheerful smile would light up and then of course we all wanted to see the card.

With the times arrived the shelf of cards and it lost the uniqueness that came with it. Peg moved up around Kettering and taught at Beavercreek school for 25 years and lived there until her passing in 2000. But over the years she accumulated many friends and each year as March 17th came around I think so did all of her friends and her birthday became a big event just as I always felt it should have been. Actually she got to celebrate the event twice as her entire family would go to her place and we would have a great family gathering nearly like the ones from when she was still living at home on Fruit Ridge Road.

I feel that after the long winters we look more for something to get excited about and since the date is in mid-March it is close enough to Easter to carry over our season of having to stay inside and breaks the boredom a little. At our house we had Peg and her birthday to help us through. I always thought that Saint Patricks’ was made up just to celebrate Pegs’ day. That is until I got a little older. As far as I was concerned any day would have been a o k to celebrate for my big sis.

These days there are parades and parties by many organizations along with large feasts and even green beer. (That just doesn’t sound too tasty.) The word shamrock is tossed around a lot. Of course we have to talk at great length about the luck of the Irish and go around trying to talk with an Irish accent. There is really so much effort put into celebrating the day. But at our house we had an Irish birthday girl that was a part of the family. Peg would try to play it down quite a bit but we all played it up as it was the holiday to hold us over to Easter.

Even though my sister has been gone eighteen years now I still stop on the day of Saint Patrick and wearing some green I think about my big sister Peg. To be very honest and even though I too have Irish in my blood I can’t help but think that even if it is Saint Patrick’s Day it is more my big sisters birthday and when you are looking up to a big sister what could be bigger than she. Happy Birthday Peg and may the luck be with you!

Rick Houser grew up on a farm near Moscow in Clermont County and loves to share stories about his youth and other topics. He may be reached at houser734@yahoo.com.