As everyone knows, the United States is the largest melting pot on Earth. Those of us whose families have been around for a long time have histories tied to many different nations and ethnicities. My mother’s ancestors are from England, Scotland, and Ireland. My grandfather told us his grandmother was full-blooded Irish. We have records of my mother’s family in America as early as 1745. My father’s family, on the other hand, was from Eastern Europe and only came here at the turn of the Twentieth Century.
Growing up, my brother and sister and I thought of ourselves more as Irish than anything else. I think that was because we all looked like our mother who talked about her Irish heritage so often, and my father liked to talk about the little Irish girl he married. That all changed for me when I married a Ukrainian from a big family. Fiercely proud of their Ukrainian and Belarussian roots, that’s all I heard at family gatherings. My Irish roots couldn’t compete. It didn’t help that none of my kids got my red hair and freckles. They all took after their dad with his dark good looks.
We ate Ukrainian food and listened to Ukrainian music. My children thought of themselves as Ukrainians. Helloooo! They had a mother, too, you know. The Ukrainian culture was so strong, it trumped my Irish heritage. But as Dylan so eloquently said, “The times, they are a’changing.” Now that we’ve moved close to my brother, who incidentally married a full-blooded Irish girl named Kathleen, there is strength in numbers. Now in my house we listen to Irish music, I’m making corned beef and cabbage for Saint Patrick’s Day next week, and I just ordered my bodhran, a traditional Irish drum. I’ve been practicing drum patterns for jigs and reels and hornpipes, using a bundle of bamboo shish kebab skewers and a cork placemat in preparation for getting my drum in a few days. I plan on sitting in at the local pub on Irish music night when the pick-up group arrives.
So, I hope my children read this because I’m putting them on notice. You’ve thought of yourselves as Ukies long enough. You also have Irish blood running through those veins of yours. And to my daughter-in-law who hails from Belarus and thought she married a Ukie-Belarus mix, I have news for you, Lassie. You married an Irishman.