SHOP TALK : It May Take Luck of the Irish to Find St. Patrick's Day Gifts : Aside from green beer and the odd shamrock trinket, the pickings are slim.


St. Patrick's Day, like any other holiday, is meant to be celebrated with family and friends. But unlike other holidays, there are no real guidelines for celebration.

As children, we had no problem sharing St. Patrick's Day with others. We just went around pinching anyone who wasn't wearing green. But as an adult, that tends to be frowned upon.

It's easy to celebrate a holiday with such time-honored practices as handing out Easter eggs, candy canes or chocolate hearts. But unless you go all out for the green beer and corned beef and cabbage, St. Patrick's Day doesn't offer many options.

So how do you share this day with someone?

Last week we went in search of little trinkets, and we had very little luck. Oh, there was the random four-leaf clover pin and shamrock socks and cookie cutters, but they were extremely difficult to find.

Considering that the holiday is Friday, your best bet, in our opinion, is a greeting card. Though they, too, are rather hard to come by, there is a decent selection out there if you look closely. To increase your chances of finding just the right card, we suggest visiting a shopping center or mall that has more than one store carrying greeting cards.

Carlton Cards at The Oaks shopping mall in Thousand Oaks is at the top of our list for St. Patrick's Day. The store had a large selection of cards ranging in sentiment from religious to somewhat disgusting--and in between was a good supply of humor.

On the cover of one card is a picture of a green-clad Santa riding through the sky in a green sled, led by a team of 10 green-nosed reindeer. Says Santa, "On Reilly, McManus, Malone and O'Malley! On Sullivan, Kennedy, Cleary, McNally." On the inside it says, "Merry St. Patrick's Day." (Price: $1.85.)

The store also offers a card with another twist. On the cover it reads, "Thought you might like a St. Patrick's Day card that's a little different." On the inside, "Mazel Tov! . . . and have a happy St. Patrick's Day!" ($1.85).

Across the mall from the Carlton store is a gift shop called Joys. Among the selection of cards there, we found a serious greeting from the Sunrise card company.

"May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and the rain fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.--Old Irish Benediction." ($1.95.)

That particular Irish saying is one repeated on many cards with some variations, such as this one we found at Carlton. "May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May your days be filled with sunshine, and your teeth be free of plaque." ($1.85.)

Over at the Lucky/Long's shopping center in Newbury Park, we visited Rita's Hallmark store. There we found a card that reads, "St. Patrick's Day: A good day to wear green." On the inside: "If you have no green, just eat broccoli and smile a lot." ($1.65.)

And at Sears in the Esplanade shopping center in Oxnard, we found a card that provided an actual reference to the legend of St. Patrick himself. "I don't know what's more amazing--that St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland . . . or that they all ended up practicing law in America." ($1.85).

On second thought, maybe a nice mug of green beer would be safer.

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