What’s an Irish Thanksgiving, you ask? It’s when you’re forty-nine years old and the husband asks what you want to do for your fiftieth and you casually say something like, “We should go to Ireland.” Then you forget about it because you have three children to attend to, among other obligations, and approaching the half-century of your life doesn’t seem like an actual event because you’re still seventeen, immature and oblivious to the process known as aging, even though it may explain the inordinate length of time it takes your mind and body to wake up in the morning, the reading glasses you’re now required to use all the time, and the occasional conversations you have about the inner workings of your digestive system. It might also clarify the AARP card you received in the mail the other day, compliments of the sister-in-law who insisted you have one. The husband brings it up again – Ireland – asking when you should go. “In the summer or closer to your birthday?” You mumble something; he mumbles something back like “It’s cheaper in the fall,” and then you find yourself on a plane with your three daughters and said husband heading to Dublin right after you actually turn fifty and right before the fourth Thursday in November, also known as Thanksgiving in the great country of America.
We arrived at 5am Dublin time on Wednesday and no one in this fair land wakes that early. In fact, they sleep quite late – like 8am – which was about the time we finished breakfast in Navan, just a few miles from our morning destination, the Hill of Tara. For years now, those who don’t personally know me, and even some who do, refer to my youngest daughter as Miss T because that’s what I dubbed her when I started this here Daily Cup. (Somewhere, I got the idea that using my children’s real names wasn’t appropriate.) If you knew her, you’d know that ‘Miss T’ fits Tara to a T. And not only is her mother Irish-American (that’s me), but her father loves all things from the Emerald Isle, so much so that he thought it wise to marry a lass. When it came time to naming the kids, it was easy. Our oldest Erin (to you, ‘Goldie’) would have been Kevin if she’d been a boy. Kerry (‘Bun Bun’ – the middle one) would have been Sean. Instead, we were gifted with three daughters and each has a place in Ireland. The country is Erin. The county is Kerry. The hill is Tara.
Naturally, we fit in here. Our American accents give us away the moment we open our mouths, but to look at us, especially after the cold has turned our cheeks and noses red, we look like the ruddy natives. Fair skin, fair hair, we embrace the clouds and rain with open arms. It suits us, this place. We’ve been here less than 48 hours and already, the husband and I know our way around Dublin. The girls have seen that Hill of Tara and the ruins at Glendalough. We’ve crossed the River Liffey and toured Trinity College, Dublin Castle, and Christ Church. We’ve tasted scones the way they’re supposed to taste (and look, like doorstops) and are even beginning to understand more than half of what people are saying. (Who knew the accent was so strong?) By tomorrow morning, before heading down to Kenmare, it’s likely that we’ll officially be on “Irish” time, eight hours ahead of Los Angeles.
Tonight, we didn’t try to find a turkey dinner or even a piece of pumpkin pie. Instead, we dined with our California friend Clem, a student at Trinity College, and listened to her regale us with stories of her ‘lads’, the history and politics that she studies, and her Irish friends whose names I can’t pronounce. I had pork wrapped in bacon (Clem’s dad would approve) because, well, wouldn’t you?
Turning fifty, so far, has been perfect if a little busier than I’d imagined. I’m here in Ireland, inspired and grateful. So ‘thank you’ to the husband who makes wishes come true, and to all my friends, my family, and my readers – sláinte! An Irish toast – to health! And Happy Thanksgiving!