The first twenty-three years of my life I lived in the northeastern part of the United States. Upstate New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. In this area, St. Patrick’s Day is a significant holiday for the Irish. Well, I say the Irish, but what I really mean is Irish Americans. I don’t think Irish people from Ireland give a rats tush about March 17th, but those of us with ancestors from the Green Isle surely do. Americans hold hold onto their lineage much more than other countries do. I’ve heard it’s something yet else we do that annoys the rest of the world. Eh, so what if my relative left County Clare more than 200 years ago, I’m Irish. Pog Mo Thoin! Erin Go Braugh!
Living in Australia eight years I’ve really come to miss celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. Dressing in green, buying the shamrock shake from McDonald’s, arguing over whether or not anyone actually likes corned beef and cabbage….for the record, I do not. That stuff is simply evil and, in my opinion, is an Irish version of Quienes mas macho? If you can eat it and not vomit then you are a real man. I am not, not have I ever wanted to be, a real man. I’ll pass.
If you were lucky you knew someone who made soda bread, if not, well then you’d just buy it. If you haven’t had any, please do….its a delight. Then there was the traditional mocking of the poor souls not lucky enough to be Irish, maybe a parade or two and in my younger years….drinking until the wee hours.
Out of all the things gone from my life since leaving the US, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day is what I miss the most. Perhaps because it represents so much more than one day…it symbolises my culture. I love Australia and I want to be here but some days I genuinely miss what made me into the person I am. Even worse, I’m afraid that with being gone so long, I don’t think I am me anymore. I miss what I was sometimes. I loved a good story and a drink. I loved singing songs about fighting the English & smoking in a bar with my treasured friends and I loved to watch a good fight. Not all my former characteristics were necessarily positive ones, but it’s who I was.
Today I put fancy green shamrock bows I made in my girls’ hair while explaining who was St. Patrick. They smiled, nodded and asked politely if I was done. I told them that I was making soda bread and they panicked until I assured them that they didn’t have to try it. There will be no corned beef and cabbage tonight. Oddly enough, I think I would actually try it if I was game enough to make it…which I am not. tMy kids don’t know anything about my culture other than a few stories I’ve told and I have no way of showing them. This is the downside of leaving your homeland. Sometimes there are small bits you can’t replicate and when they are gone, you miss them. I miss me desperately this time of the year.
Happy St. Patrick’s’ Day to you and enjoy what ever holiday means the most to you.