What it Means to be Irish: Melancholy + Celebration

Every ethnicity should have a holiday such as this one, in which you get to celebrate your heritage with whoever will join you, introducing your familial and cultural traditions to those who aren’t familiar with them, and sharing them with those who are.

On St. Patrick’s day, I feel that the veil between the living and the dead is very thin. My ancestors are right around the curtain, in the ether.

Usually, that makes me feel good, a part of something greater, but this year it had a darker tinge to it. I’ve been writing more in my personal musings about the parts of my history that I am uncomfortable with, that leave me with more questions than answers.

I’ve also been reading some more Irish Lit, curtesy of my brilliant professor sister, who has been schooling me on the words of my ancestors, which it is her life’s work to study and teach.

If you are not familiar with Irish Literature, then perhaps it will be a surprise to you that a culture known for our jubilant celebrations write the most morbid literature in all the world. Humor is often a part of it, for sure, but the dark kind of “gallows humor” that leaves you thinking more about your own mortality than the lighter things in life. Hence, the Jameson.

I always need a combination of reflection on the past and celebration of the present on St. Patrick’s Day, but today it was weighted more heavily on the former. So, I forewent the big party I usually attend and had a small dinner at my house, inviting one couple that we are close with, and asking my husband to cook the meal my dad used to make every year when I was growing up, corned beef and cabbage.

A Haitian husband willing to learn Irish cuisine -- I am one lucky lady.

A Haitian husband willing to learn Irish cuisine — I am one lucky lady.

Olive digging in to the soda bread I made, watching her Papa cook from her perch on Heather's lap.

Olive digging in to the soda bread I made, watching her Papa cook from her perch on Heather’s lap.

Dinner time like it's nobody's business -- Olive and I are psyched.

Dinner time like it’s nobody’s business — Olive and I are psyched.

My friends brought me flowers, homemade chocolate stout cake, and whiskey.  It's nice to be known.

My friends brought me flowers, homemade chocolate stout cake, and whiskey. It’s nice to be known.

The party ended the way every party should - dancing to old school hip hop jams.

The party ended the way every party should – dancing to old school hip hop jams.

I’m sitting here now, sipping my Magners, missing my family but loving the one I’m creating here and now.  I hope you all feel close to your heritage, whatever it may be, and find a way to bring old traditions into your present life, in ways that seem small, but build up to something meaningful.

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