Over a year ago, my mom’s friend Aunt Kath did an ancestry search on our family and found out something shocking: we’re Irish.
My mom was super excited to find out about this. My sister Amy and I were not. We spent a long time in the denial stage of grief.
What were we grieving? Our so-called Scottish heritage and our sense of distinction.
In elementary school, my three best friends were Claudia, Caitlin and Erin. They were all 50 or 100% Irish. They were all Catholic. They all went to religion classes after school at St. Patrick’s. I wasn’t one of them. Sometimes I gave up stuff for Lent just to feel included.
Despite my pale, freckled face, we were zero percent Irish. My freckles must have come from our Scottish blood. There aren’t a lot of fun Scottish cultural traditions celebrated in New York. It was kind of boring.
But one summer, Amy and I visited our aunt, who’s legit Scottish (married in). She told us the true story of William Wallace and made us watch Braveheart even though we may have been too young. And from then on, I was cool with being Scottish. I even went to Edinburgh and got my photo taken with that Braveheart impersonator guy.
So, after my whole youth spent not being Irish? Feeling like not quite an insider on St. Patrick’s Day? After coming to be proud of my non-Irish roots? Now, I find out I’m Irish?
I guess what upsets me most is all the wasted years I could’ve been having more fun. I would’ve worn “Erin Go Bragh” t-shirts like my friends in elementary school, and “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” pins a little later. I would’ve partied harder and drank more. Ok? I’m upset about all the green beer I didn’t drink. Just, I’m allowed, ok?
Well, I still don’t feel Irish, whatever that feels like. Last year I wasn’t ready to come out of the Irish closet. But this year, I might as well go for it.
This past Sunday was the Huntington St. Patty’s Day parade. We had beautiful weather and there’s no better time to celebrate new-found Irishness.
Let’s keep the party going! This Sunday, I’ll be out in the city, but mostly avoiding the parade because, crowds ugh.