Paddy’s Day is my favorite holiday next to Christmas, and it’s not because I love drinking Guinness (although that is true, but only while in Ireland because it really does taste better. #beersnob). It’s also not because I like throwing caution to the wind and dancing jigs while wearing my blazing green Paddy’s Day jacket (although that’s also true).
My love affair with all things Irish is simpler than that: it’s about love.
I’ve been to Ireland five times, and each and every time I fall in love, literally and figuratively, all the more.
The first time I went I was 21. I went to study abroad in Limerick (where my great-grandfather was born), and I set out to conquer the world! And conquer it I did. I went to 7 countries, ate cow intestines in Spain, canyon-jumped in the Swiss Alps, and swore on the Cliffs of Moher that I would NEVER get married unless it were back in Ireland. (Seeing how I never thought either would happen, this seemed like a safe “bet”. SPOILER ALERT: be careful what you wish for in Ireland.)
The second and third times were to see friends and to experience Paddy’s Day in Dublin (which is AMAZING, by the way!!!!).
Then in 2005, I went back for a fourth time…and that’s where I really fell in love.
My then-boyfriend-now-husband surprised me with cheap tickets ($350 each!) to Ireland for my birthday. Huzzah!
We slept in airports, skipped meals (just so we could have a “proper” meal of Guinness for dinner); we chased sheep, played Scrabble, and loved every minute.
Then one night, after having danced our Irish hearts out in Galway, something in my heart changed. It may have been that extra pint of Guinness, combined with the Irish gaiety, but either way, my little guarded-heart cracked open.
I turned to my then-boyfriend-now-husband as we walked back to our shoebox-hostel, arm-in-arm (as to keep me from tripping over the cobble stone streets, which I assure you, had nothing to do with the Guinness), and I said, “You know what? I think you’re it.”
He looked back at me, knowingly, as if he had planned this all along, and said, “I think you’re it, too.” And then he kissed me…in the Irish moonlight. #swoon!
The rest is history.
We returned for my fifth time (!) in 2007 to get married. (Miracles do happen people.) I still remember it like it happened yesterday: only 20 people came, so it was a very intimate affair, and we said our hand-written vows in the foothills of Killarney…
…and then promptly went down to the local pub and danced till the sheep came home. (Seriously. I love the Irish sheep. My kids all know that when we go back, they’ll get to chase them with me.)
So to put it in Irish terms, our wedding was “brilliant”.
Our relationship has been like that too. Raw, real, and brilliant. But not in the sparkle-kind of way. In the Irish-way — humorous, authentic, and gallant.
Peter and I were brave to fall in love and commit our lives to each other, just as anyone is who makes this choice, because relationships are HARD, right?! They’re messy and uncomfortable, and they push us past our limits (especially when you have kids!), but I do believe in miracles. And I believe that they can happen even more if we open up to what God says we NEED instead of what we think we want. That’s how I opened up to Peter — a man I didn’t deserve, but who waited for me to mature all the same.
So on this Paddy’s Day, I’d like to raise a glass to my Irish love, even though he’s 75% Norwegian — but everyone’s Irish on Paddy’s Day, right!?
Thank you, Peter, for loving me for me, and for giving me a reason to REALLY celebrate Paddy’s Day. I love you and the family we’ve created — you are my love affair with all things Irish. Heck, you’re my love affair period.
P.S. You might be wondering why I spelled Paddy’s Day with Ds. That’s how they spell it in Ireland so I’m stickin’ to it!