From the Editor's Desk: Happy St. Patrick's Day from an 'adopted' Irish son

3/3/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: March 2017

I’m the very definition of a Heinz 57 American.

My heritage is fairly far reaching.

Some Spanish here, some French Canadian here, a dash of German on this side, even a little Irish in there somewhere. No Italian, though, and that sometimes throws people off – Mazza (two Zs) is Italian; with one Z, it’s Spanish. My heritage is something I’m aware of, but never something I have ever felt was a defining characteristic of who I am.

With that in mind, St. Patrick’s Day was always one of those holidays that I never really understood and never really participated in. I went to a parade here or there. I might have gone to a bar for a Guinness with some friends. I rarely ever even wore green because it wasn’t part of my wardrobe and I wasn’t going to buy an article of clothing for the sake of one day that at most was something I found oddly fascinating.

Anyone I had observed took the day as an excuse to drink to excess in what seemed to just be a rowdy day in which shenanigans were not only acceptable, but almost encouraged.

Then I met my wife, Eileen. Eileen is Irish through and through. And not just Irish – Holyoke Irish. Suddenly I was thrust into a life in which St. Patrick’s Day was not just a major holiday, but one that was bigger than Christmas.

It’s about more than my preconceived notions, Eileen would say, usually garnering a sarcastic or skeptical response from me. My wife would recount tales of living on the parade route as a child and pressing faces against the glass of the front picture window as a child to get a look at the food vendors. It was one of the rare times when a truck full of porta-potties spurred excitement. And then, of course, there was always the big gathering at Nana’s

My first “real” Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Parade experience, as Eileen calls it, was overwhelming and a bit off-putting at first. I didn’t know what to make of it. But it also proved she was exactly right.

It was eye opening. That day three things were emphasized more than anything else – family, friends and community. It was something that I think everyone, regardless of background, can appreciate.

I witnessed those exact same sentiments on display again recently when I attended the Agawam St. Patrick’s Committee’s Colleen Coronation last month.

Colleen Hailey Lyne, her court and the other participants are all worthy of praise as terrific representatives of Agawam. After seeing this representative sample, I am more excited than ever to get to know this community better. They each in their own way stressed these important cornerstones of our society.

In a time in which there seems to be so much unrest, I hope we can all take a page from those young women, take step back and contemplate what those three things – family, friends, and community – mean to us and how we can strengthen our bond with all three.

As an “adopted” Irish son, I wish you all lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhaoibh!

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