My first best friend in the whole wide world was half Taiwanese, half Jewish. Her home was filled with treasures, family tradition, authentic home cooked meals and more. I immersed myself in it. I longed for the same connection with my family's past.
My family emigrated to the United States during the potato famine like many Irish families did at the time. Some made the move, but not all. We still have a family village outside Cork, and I dream someday of visiting there. A cousin went after he finished college and ended up staying for months longer than expected, meeting so many members of the family.
When I was pregnant with my oldest, we chose an old Gaelic name, Aidan, not realizing that name would become one of the most popular. We chose it because of the heritage, not because of the trend. I wanted to spell my oldest daughter's name Ashleigh, but we settled on the more common spelling for some reason. In the event I ever have another daughter, I already know what her name will be. It would, of course, start with an A. It would, of course, be Irish.
One of my favorite traditions every year is to attend the St. Patrick's Day parade. My girls have begged to dance ceili for a long time. As much as I would love to enroll them, the schools are far from where we live, the classes are very expensive and the outfits cost a small fortune. Maybe someday when they tire of soccer...
Right after we married, my husband went to the Irish shop in San Diego that has been run by the same woman for years. He knew I wanted a claddaugh ring, but he wanted to make sure it was authentic and came from Ireland. I've worn it every day since.
Not long after that, I went to get my tattoo. A four leaf clover, for luck and for family. I knew that I would never fall out of love with it, and almost fifteen years later, I haven't. I'm proud of it, and have so many ideas of other traditional Irish symbols I would love to turn into body art.
There is the fun side of it too, the part where I play with it all. A few years ago, the leprechaun started coming to visit us. He's naughty. He dyes the milk green, he turns the furniture upside down. He sprinkles glitter on everything and hangs underwear from the ceiling. The kids seem a little more determined to catch him with each year, though they haven't managed to yet.
He'll be here in a few days. The parade is this weekend. The feast will be prepared, the soda bread loaves made. I'm sure the kids will talk me into some ridiculous rainbow treats for their classes, like usual. The keg is full of a homebrewed stout, made with Irish hops, and the Jameson has been purchased.
Let's put some Irish on it.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
Here are some of the links to recipes for things I have prepared in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.