When I was in my 20s I so wanted to find a man to marry that was Italian or Irish or Jewish or something that warranted practicing long-held traditions, knowledge of heritage, and hopefully a family that still reveled in their culture. I wanted a great last name. I wanted olive skinned or red haired children. I wanted to wave a flag in our front yard representing our (his) heritage.
Growing up I knew that my Mom’s side was German and my Dad’s side was Scottish and French. There is a castle and a plaid in Scotland for our “clan” and I was more than a little dismayed when I was told as a child that I did not have rights to said castle. I mean…isn’t it OUR castle??? I digress…there was never any celebration of any of the places my family came from. I’ve not even done the research to learn the details.
Enter into the picture my husband. My husband is of Irish descent. He has a very Irish last name. Red hair and freckles run rampant in his family. Not only that…but they actually celebrate it. Okay, okay, no. They are no longer Catholic, they don’t make cabbage regularly, my husband doesn’t even drink, and when I say they celebrate I’m talking about today. They celebrate St. Patrick‘s Day. But for a girl who comes from no cultural traditions…this is a really big deal.
Last year for the first time we took the little girls out of school. I am against doing so under almost all circumstances but it seems to me that people don’t have the opportunity to celebrate their ancestry much anymore. If we can give the little girls some idea of where they came from, and have great fun doing so, then it’s worth it. Each year our tradition includes going to my husband’s uncle’s house for a large breakfast with cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. We eat breakfast, pile into cars, head to the city, march in a large parade carrying a banner boasting our last name, and lead a chant once a block to let people know who we are.
Today was no different (except for the very warm weather that we’re not accustomed to enjoying in March). We walked in the parade, had a great time, and the little girls were once again able to celebrate being Irish.
I want to provide their history for them. I want them to have a deep understanding of what “being Irish” means. Currently, I don’t even know what that means, so it will take some research. But as I looked around at the many families celebrating their Irish heritage I decided I was going to help make that happen. I want to take them to Ireland and maybe even track down relatives. I want to learn when the family came here and why. I want to find out as much as I can so that each year they understand a little more about why we march in this parade.
Additionally…I want to find out more about my family so I can share that too.
TODAY: What if I do a little studying to provide the girls with their history? What if I make this part of what we talk about day in and day out so it becomes part of who they are? And what if I find out that information for myself too?