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Monday, March 17, 2014

Still an Irish Wannabe

If this post looks familiar to you, then you've been hanging around here for a long time! It's a timely re-post from several years ago.


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It's St. Patrick's Day again and here I am, a melting pot American, longing for a fiercely loyal heritage. I've always been a bit jealous of friends who wear their lineage like a badge -- who celebrate St. Patrick's Day or Cinqo de Mayo or Oktoberfest as part of their connection to the motherland.

Of all of the ethnicities I wish I could be, Irish is the one I most pine after. Maybe it's the adorable brogue or the stiff-skirted dancers or the stew. Maybe it's just that St. Patrick's Day is such a fun celebration, made more festive, I think, by the fact that it often accompanies the coming of spring when people are looking for a reason to come out of hibernation and be social again.

I wear green on St. Patrick's Day. I try to cook something festive -- for the past several years we've had green pancakes for breakfast. When the kids were little, we always went to the St. Patrick's Day parade. And I love to listen to all the naughty tricks the leprechaun pulled at school.

But I don't pretend that I am Irish. I didn't name my kids Killian and Seamus and Colleen. I wouldn't feel right about hanging out at the Golden Ace where the real Irishmen in town go on St. Patrick's Day.

In the vernacular of Harry Potter, I suppose I would be considered a "mudblood" with a mix of Swiss and German in my heritage. At least I've got the good chocolates on my side.

I can pretend to be Irish a little by marriage. Though my father-in-law's family is from England, my mother-in-law was Irish. Her mother was a Dunnivan who married a Donovan. Mike's grandfather once enraged an army official who asked him what his wife's maiden name was.

"Dunnivan," he said, his voice thick with a Boston accent.

"No," said the official, "What was her last name before she married you?"

"Dunnivan," the young Mr. Donovan replied.

"Not her name now. Before you got married, she was Miss...what?"

The way the story goes, it was quite the Abbott and Costello moment that almost landed him in some hot military water for insubordination. Dunnivan. Donovan. Potato (Irish, of course). Potahto. Whatever it is, Erin go bragh!

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