Even though I wasn't planning on getting into the religious history, I figured I better at least remind myself about the Patron Saint of Ireland and his use of the shamrock. There were quite a few Irish Catholics in my groups who were pretty happy to share.
What to Drink!
In my first group, my dear friend Betty actually brought me a little leprechaun gift. This came in handy as a prop to discuss the folklore involving the little fellow and his pot of gold and the rainbow. In fact it's amazing how many folks were sort of looking like leprechauns with all the green and gold hats.
It was fun to watch the expressions as each got a turn. At first there was lots of concentration, getting set up and trying it out. And then the crazy surprise movements of the little wooden man, suddenly had whole table laughing. Even though I pasted a shamrock on the puppet to help him imitate a dancing leprechaun, we all determined he failed at the art of Irish dance. Irish dancers do not whip their arms like windmills.
Note: I hear leprechauns have the ability to disappear. I see he did just that, in the picture above! Where did he go?
Shamrock or 4-Leaf Clover?
So we did a little research and reminded ourselves that all shamrocks are clovers, but not all clovers are shamrocks. A shamrock has 3 leaves and evidently St. Patrick used one as a prop to teach about the Holy Trinity. So we decided we should focus on the 3-leaf clover if we want to look like we know anything!
I found a great book on the history of the NYC's St. Patrick's Day parades, that that have been happening since 1762! Ken said he remembered sitting on the steps of St. Patrick's Cathedral and watching the parade as a child. Mary, who grew up in New Orleans had different St. Pat Parade memories. She remembers the potatoes that were tossed from floats. Since we had a potato on the table, we did our own tossing. We turned on some lively Irish music and passed it around the table until the music stopped.
to give to the winners. One winner announced, "Just like the gold in the pot at the end of the rainbow!" We all tried to ignore the "Made in China" print on the back.
What Did I Learn?
handed me a drawing he'd done, I was touched. What nice surprises.
Year of the Sheep... or Goat?
We had two-handed attempts and a couple, who barely have use of their hands anymore, were determined and successful. For some, the activity became an exercise, for others it was just something whacky to do while we chatted and warmed up to one another.
Chopsticks for Music!
While we had the chopsticks out, I shared a song I used to do with my own kids. The chopsticks became rhythm instruments as we sang about tea and rice and finally fortune cookies. Dot, who does love a little music, suddenly was happy to pick up those sticks and join in! I rewarded all efforts with fortune cookies and we shared our fortunes and agreed, they need to come up with better ones!
It was a treat watching the care Mr. Davis took as he reached out to find the gong with his hands. Since he can't see, he held metal edge, then aimed with the soft mallet. He taught us all a quick lesson about vibration, when his strike made a thud against the gong. He let go of the gong for his second try and managed to hit the bull's eye! The smile on his face matched the perfect and pure sound of the vibrating metal!
Fortunes and Wishes
And the Sound?
Even my loudest group got quiet and thoughtful as we took turns. It was surprising to see how focused each group became as they noticed that everyone had their own style of striking the gong. It became clear there was no right or wrong way with this group and they seemed to appreciate each other's sounds and thoughts, sometimes even applauding. "Oh, she made a beautiful sound! Did you hear how long it lasted!" It was sweet to see how they supported each other.
A Special Visitor
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.