Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Irish Style

An Irish Thanksgiving

A funny thing happens to many American expats - like your's truly - this time of year. Nostalgia creeps in. Longings for America and absent friends and family seep through tightly-locked emotional doors bleating for attention. We scan the far westerly horizon wishing - sometimes desperately - that we could grab hold of a passing cloud and drift  home.

It's Thanksgiving, of course, which is the cause of all the emotional ruckus. 

I'm amazed at how many Americans don't realize that Thanksgiving is a holiday not celebrated in Ireland. Only the other day, for instance, I was seated in my local having a pint when I noticed a small group of tourists standing at the back window admiring the view of Coulagh Bay in my new home of Eyeries. It's odd how I've learned to detect the presence of fellow countrymen and women over the years. They could have been from anywhere - England, Italy, Spain, or elsewhere - but I knew instantly  that they were American. 

I introduced myself. As usual, they could not believe that I had lived in Ireland for over 30 years. "You've lived here all that time? How lucky you are!" a woman from Iowa squawked. Yes, I agreed, I'm lucky. Mind, I still miss America.  "After all this time? Well don't you worry. Thanksgiving is around the corner. I'm sure you and the entire country will have a fine time then."

I had to explain that Thanksgiving is a decidedly North American holiday.  "What?" she gasped. "They don't celebrate Thanksgiving here? You poor person!"  No, I replied. Just like they don't celebrate the 4th of July.  

You'd thought that I'd shot her, such was her disbelief.

Of all the days that I miss from home, it's Thanksgiving. On this day, a day of family, a day of friendship and gratitude, a day of loving warmth, I scan the far horizon and wish I could transport myself to those far shores. I wish I could walk down a central Illinois neighborhood street and breath in the smell of basting turkey and hot pumpkin pie. I wish I could watch sons and daughters and grandchildren pile out of cars into the waiting arms of their parents and grandparents. I wish I could secretly march in the Macy's parade, proudly waving an American flag.  

Instead what I'll do today is work. Then later, I'll take out a TV dinner and sit in front of the fire and warm my toes. And I'll reflect on Thanksgiving's past, and of all the people that I miss. And then I'll walk up to the pub and wish my fellow villagers a Happy Thanksgiving. And they in turn, and even though they are not entirely certain of the significance of the day to a long-lost Yank, will return the compliment.  

It's Thanksgiving. And no, they don't celebrate it in Ireland. But that does't mean that Thanksgiving still isn't in my heart. And I'll say a prayer of gratitude for the life that I've been given and the family and friends that mean so much to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Where ever you might be.

Want to learn more about living in Ireland? Are you thinking of traveling to Ireland or moving to Ireland? If so, you might consider the purchase of the 2014 Kindle ebook edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland. Now 80,000+ words long, and having sold over 10,000 copies in its various editions, it could make the perfect gift for those interested in this wonderful country. Simply click on any of the links above to purchase this new Kindle version. You can also download various free aps to read this Kindle version on any PC or Mac. 

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