The little black kettle came bouncing out of the cupboard.
It rolled onto the floor past my wife and the widened eyes and opened mouth of my youngest son — a bigger look on his face than the “Home Alone” kid.
And with that black kettle went a great chapter of childhood innocence.
“That’s the leprechaun’s pot,” he said.
Then he burst into a series of grunts and utterances that writing doesn’t convey.
My wife was frozen in that “what-to-do-now” moment no one wants to be in. Her expression was bigger than the “Home Alone” kid. She could not muster a response quickly enough that could possibly retain that chapter of childhood.
“Are yoouuuu the leprechaun?” Maguire asked.
The leprechaun has had as integral a role in our house as has Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.
Not so much due to our bits of Irish lineage, but more for the fun of engaging our kids, especially if engaging can mean suspending reality for as many moments in life as a parent can.
Every St. Patrick’s Day morning, for 10 years or so, the boys would awake to a home of high jinks: tipped furniture, pictures flipped in the frames, green toilet-bowl water, trails of green shamrocks and more.
Amid the mischief was a letter from the leprechaun.
It seemed every year he managed to leave behind a boot, a scarf or something else. In his letter, he asked for the item to be returned to him. If the item was placed in the spot of his letter, the next morning there would be a black kettle of treats in its place.
And so it went for a decade. Amid the joy of their treats, the boys never noticed or wondered where the kettle would go every year.
It just quietly disappeared into mom’s little cupboard that held some of the best treasures of childhood.
“Yes, I’m the leprechaun,” Mom admitted.
Maguire confessed, too.
He knew about Santa.
And he knew two years ago that I, not the Easter Bunny, did the Easter eggs.
We seemed to travel half of the last 10 Easters, and along for the ride came about 150 plastic eggs. The night before Easter, wherever we were, out came the eggs and inside them went chocolates, money and toys. Inside the two eggs, one gold and one silver, went $5 and $3.
Amid the morning flurry of Easter baskets, the eggs would mysteriously surface in the yard.
So three are down. The Tooth Fairy is still hanging on — barely.
We’ll do our best to keep the childhood fun in the holidays.
But life will eventually turn them less magical and just special — like Thanksgiving, a contrast not lost on my oldest some years ago.
“I don’t know why they call it Thanksgiving,” he mused about five years ago. “You’re not given anything.”