I have a boy who breaks out in eczema at the mere mention of food dyes, and yet sometimes there is a craft, a snack, a celebration so marvelous that he looks at me cross-eyed and nods, smiling, I'm willing to itch like crazy for the next 48 hours to indulge in these toxic rainbows!
All that said, St. Patrick's Day is so much more than rainbows and leprechauns, artificial food coloring, four leaf clovers, my mother's candied corned beef and cabbage, hot soda bread, gold foil covered chocolate coins, and the stone there on our table that we call "Blarney." Indeed, March 17th is a day to celebrate missions as we remember Christendom's first cross-cultural missionary.
One of our family's favorite traditions is to read aloud together the story of young Patrick's life, chronicled in the AMAZING children's book, The Story of Saint Patrick. "Buried beneath the St. Patrick’s Day symbols of shamrocks and leprechauns lies the story of a man determined to share the message of salvation with the people who made him a slave." But the story doesn't end there, the last few pages tell of a martyr's death, then brings the reality of persecution to modern times. Yes, it's a bit heavy, but it's told with such simplicity that my children have been moved to understand rather than left confused.
Smack-dab in the middle of Lent, St. Patrick's Day reminds every member of our family what it means to be ambassadors of Christ — bold and loving, brave and faithful.
For the last few years we've just brushed the surface with our young, green-clad sons, keeping the focus on the going and the sharing that missionaries do, rather than the danger and the cost. In recent years, however, words like persecution give way to martyrdom and ISIS. This year, in light of what is happening throughout the world, we will go a bit deeper over our bowls of mint chip ice cream, talking together of the ways God has used persecution to spread His Gospel throughout time. And we will pray for the men and women we know who are actively going out into regions of the world that are hostile against the message of Christ today.
For a wonderful online education in all things St. Patrick, visit Celebrating Holidays to delve into the rich Christian history, the captivating legend, the traditions, the hymns, and the recipes that bring St. Patrick's Day to life.
Leprechaun traps and shamrock shaped pancakes are fun, no doubt, but don't miss this wonderful opportunity to talk about the heart of Christian Missions with your children... making sure that they know that missionaries are not just the men and women who go overseas, missionaries are the men, women, boys, and girls who tell others about Jesus's great big love whoever they are.
Yes... As you build your rainbows with colorful Twizzlers, remind the children of God's Promise to keep pursuing mankind with the wonderful news of His Love. He does that, the pursuing and the loving, through you and me and our little ones, right where we're living today. And those golden Rolos, underneath it all, remind us where our treasure lies.
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
postscript - Walmart carries these rainbow colored twizlers, bags of rolos, and plastic tie baggies.