Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You Know You're Irish When...

Today is St. Patricks Day and I have on my requisite green shirt as I am one-quarter Irish. My great-grandmother on my mother's side emigrated from Ireland as a thirteen year old girl and landed in Newark, NJ via Ellis Island to work as a maid. She came alone and worked for strangers. I am nearly three times the age of my great-grandmother at the time of her voyage and I can honestly say that I do not have the courage as an adult to do what she did as a young teenager.

While I don't share the same level of bravery as my great-grandmother, it seems that if one has Irish in them, no matter how scant the amount, they might have a tendency to save things. By "save" things I mean to buy things such as clothing, sheets, housewares and the like and put them away for a special event that will never come, or to have on hand in case the item in question ceases to exist in the natural world.

Here is an example:
I have about 5 pairs of jeans. Out of those 5 pairs, two rarely see the light of day. They are folded away like the Shroud of Turin because I don't want them to ever get old. I want them to remain pristine. They are my favorites and I fear never finding jeans that fit like they do, so I SAVE THEM.

Here is another example:
My Irish grandmother, daughter of my from-the-shores-of-Ireland-great-grandmother, found bedsheets that she liked. They were white with a cross-stitched motif printed around the tops of the sheets and edges of the pillowcases. Every bed in her house had these sheets. Her linen closet was stocked like a fallout shelter with backups brand new and in their packaging. These sheets were a fixture in her house for the rest of her living days. Some migrated to my parent's house. We all used those sheets until the printing was so faded they were basically all white, and then we used them as white sheets.
Just when we thought we had seen the last of Grandma's sheets, my aunt Gen recently told us she found a set, unopened, somewhere in her attic.

One last example:
The car I am currently driving has a sunroof, which I love. I have owned my car for about 5 years and when it was new, I never used the sunroof because I was afraid that it would run out. If you're Irish, you most likely understand this crazy talk, but if you're not, let me explain:
On some deep Irish cellular level, I feared that my sunroof had a limited amount of times it could be used and then it would cease to work. This is lunacy in reality, but I really feared that I would indeed use up my sunroof--the amount of times it could be opened and shut would run out and I would be sorry that I hadn't used it more judiciously. I never enjoyed it as I had such guilt when I cracked it open. There was never a time "worthy" enough for me to use the sunroof.
I no longer do this. I use the sunroof when I want, but I always have a moment of hesitation before pressing the button.

Have a great St. Patrick's Day!

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