I don’t know where it comes from, but my two younger daughters have imaginations and creativity that astound me.
They’ve been chattering all week about St. Patrick’s Day. “I don’t know why people aren’t excited about St. Patrick’s Day,” one told me early in the week. “Honey, it’s really not that big a holiday,” I responded, and she looked at me with exasperation. Clearly I just didn’t get it.
On Saturday, the girls decided to make leprechaun traps. We were having an easy weekend free of our usual obligations, so I helped them find green paper and fabric and gold stars and glue. I donated a couple of shoe boxes to the cause.
The girls worked diligently for over two hours, creating what can only be described as cozy leprechaun homes.
One contained a pillow-topped bed and tiny pictures on the wall. A personal note said “I put a lot of work into this house.” The other provided a leprechaun snack (a small piece of bread, cheese, and a sliver of chocolate) as well as a pencil point and paper with instructions for the leprechaun to write his name and draw a picture of himself.
A friend of mine stopped by in the midst of construction and asked the girls why they were making leprechaun traps. “To see if we can catch one,” they replied. There was a lot of conversation about what leprechauns were like – they’re apparently tiny, always men, and not very nice. “Little devils,” is how one described them.
Both girls went to bed dressed in green, so they wouldn’t get pinched by naughty leprechauns during the night.
Now what? Leprechaun traps were not a part of my childhood, so I’m not sure of their purpose. Were the leprechauns supposed to leave surprises? Or play naughty tricks? Was I obligated to create tiny green leprechaun footprints?
(I’d already bought the requisite box of Lucky Charms, stashed in my car under a towel for the past two days, that would appear at the breakfast table. A few years ago, we’d bought a box of Lucky Charms for a treat for the girls on St. Patrick’s Day. When they spotted the box, they were firmly convinced leprechauns had delivered it – their parents had never bought them breakfast cereal with 10 grams of sugar per serving! And every year since they’ve made it clear they expected a box of Lucky Charms would magically appear on St. Patrick’s Day morning.)
Then I remembered the bag of gold-wrapped chocolate coins I’d bought in December. I’d planned to drop the coins into their stockings, but then forgot about them as I did several of the Christmas gifts I purchased too early. It took me a few minutes of digging through dresser drawers before I found the stash – I’d definitely hidden them well!
We heard the girls run downstairs this morning and discover the gold coins and Lucky Charms. They burst into our bedroom to tell us the leprechaun’s name was Patrick (clearly the mother is not as imaginative as the children) and show us the a funny picture he’d drawn of himself. One child was disappointed that Patrick hadn’t eaten the snack she’d left for him, the other surprised that he took her note but didn’t leave one in return. They wondered why he had not taken the gold bells they’d left for him.
My husband and I laid in bed, smiling and holding hands, while we listened to them eat several bowls of cereal and discuss the leprechaun visit. This is how new family traditions are born.