Monday, March 18, 2013

And then there was the time we shot a cannon off in the backyard to celebrate our heritage.

So it should be known that I come from a family of four. I mean, there are more of us out there in the world – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents – but on a day-to-day basis, on any given day of my life, my parents, my sister, and I were the Four Amigos. Though, to be fair, we never called ourselves that, and so you can stop worrying that we were aggressively un-cool our entire lives.

You see, my extended family is spread out over various corners of the country, and so I didn’t grow up with, like, my grandma down the street and my 16 cousins within a 20 mile radius. So holidays were spent, more or less, with the four of us happily eating dinner, maybe playing a game of Scrabble, enjoying each other’s company, and going to bed at a respectable 9:30. It was good time’s in the House of Amos and I think I may or may not have seen us at one point depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting when I was younger.

Cut to: Shooting off a cannon, divulging family secrets, eating your weight in food, and drinking through multiple bottles of beer, wine, and whiskey.

Also known as, Holidays with CB.  

To be fair, though, it was a totally small cannon and nobody got hurt.  

You see, CB’s family is made up of a bunch of proud Irish folks who take their heritage, and the traditions surrounding it, very seriously. Also, they like to cook and drink, and so if there’s any holiday that will allow for such indulgences, they’re right on board. And if there’s not a holiday in the near future, we’ll just call it Saturday.

However, I’ve never been a part of St. Patrick’s Day with his family until now. Last year I was on a business trip and so I missed out on the festivities. I mean, CB filled me in on who was there, how delicious the food was, and gave me the overall impression that it was a fun day had by all. But, as I found out this weekend, CB’s not real wild on details, so I missed out on the finer points of the event.  

Like, he left out the part where 20 people eat (conservatively) 30 pounds of corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, three different kinds of bread, and a salad while one-upping each other with devious tales from their youth.

Like, he left out the part where his father walks around with a shillelagh while serving whiskey and beer.

Like, he left out the part where his mother would kindly teach me how to make her mother’s traditional Irish Wheat Bread, giving me tips and tricks passed down through the generations. And then I would proceed to make a loaf that exploded all over her oven. And then they would refer to it as “the mutant bread.”

Like, he left out the part where “a low-key St. Patty’s Day this year” meant 20 people eating and drinking for 8 hours while listening to Irish music, leading to an entire conversation had between me and a family friend where I have no idea what was said because I couldn’t hear anything over the dull roar.

Like, he left out the part where he totally should’ve told me what kind of teenager he was so I could make sure that when we have children, we adopt.

I couldn't make this up if I tried. 
Like, he left out the part where they decide to shoot off a cannon from their back deck for laughs.

Yep, you read that correctly. They totally shot off a cannon from their back deck. For fun. During the daytime.

And it was awesome.

Now, for those of you regulars here, this won’t come as a huge shock to you. I mean, we all remember Thanksgiving, right? And so you’d think that it wasn’t a huge shock to me. But you learn something new every day, and yesterday, the lesson was two-fold:

1, CB’s family has an actual cannon in their home and 2, CB knows how to shoot off a cannon.

However, I think what I’m still continually surprised by is the level of enjoyment these people get out of spending time together, and the level of ease with which the event is hosted. I mean, if it were me – and God help us all if it ever is - I’d have to take a week off of work, go get a second job to help pay for all of the groceries, and likely end up ordering a pizza that morning after everything exploded/collapsed/burned/etc.

But everyone seems to chip in to help – whether it’s in the kitchen, running an errand, cleaning, moving furniture, or ordering the troops to come inside for dinner. It’s like a Bud and Jameson-fueled, sleep-deprived, well-oiled machine.

And I was thrilled to be a part of it. Though I must admit that when the question of “so, when do we get to meet your parents?” repeatedly came up, I glanced over at the canon, eyed up the shillelagh, smiled at CB and said “I think we’ll take this slow.”

Happy Monday, everyone! 


  1. My family is quite similar just with different food as we are Hispanic. So every holiday comes with 10 lbs of food per person usually in the form of brisket, tamales, rice, and baked goods. And depending on which side of the family you either drink your weight in sweet tea or beer. I'd love to try and Irish event some day!

    1. Your traditions sound pretty darned good, too!!

  2. Is that the actual cannon. Coming from a background as a historical re-enactor when you say "we shot off a cannon" I had a very different mental image.

    1. Yep, that's the actual cannon! I mean, if they had a BIGGER cannon in their house, wouldn't that be sort of a bad sign?

    2. Uh... no.

      I've been on the line of battle with a 6 lb'er not 20 feet away from me and I've charged a dugout earthenwork fort that had multiple field pieces aimed at us while we did. Fortunately another brigade and valiantly assailed said fort and while they were mostly wiped out to the man they did manage to dislodge most of the gun crews.

      Yeah.... I's a nerd. :)

      Seriously though, you haven't lived until you've seen a field piece go off. It'll stop your heart, literally.

  3. My mom's family is pretty crazy when they get together. Unfortunately, they live in Alaska, so I just hear the stories. :)

    1. You'll have to make a trip to Alaska and join in! :-)

  4. That sounds so cool! I'm jealous. Also, mmmmm corned beef and cabbage.

    I got to shoot a potato cannon the other day, and I was having so much fun and giggling like an idiot every time!!

    1. Oh fun! Except now I worry that you've given his family ANOTHER idea for next year.... :-)