This is a Limerick by Joe
From Ireland where there is no snow
We’re all alone
In a different time zone
For Christmas I grew a big fro
On Christmas morning, I had finally inspired Joe to write his first Limerick. And to grow green hair in honor of our first Irish Christmas together as husband and wife. After opening the presents under our “Christmas Orchid,” in the words of Will Ferrell as John C Reilly, we made a “scrumtrulescent” breakfast while listening to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album. That afternoon, we went for a run in the pouring rain and came back drenched, ready for another scrumtrulescent feast. Over mulled wine, we spent several hours skyping with family. Mom and Dad had on their Christmas outfits and were heading to St. James cathedral. Paul really, really enjoyed showing us the legos and toys that his boys James and Marcus got from Santa. In Sequim, we celebrated with Joe’s family. His brother James was excited to leave for his big trip to India. In California, we hung out with the de Andas, and watched the fourth quarter of the Lakers game together through our laptop. I am sure that was Joe’s favorite gift. The day ended with cheesecake and the movie Couples Retreat, which has nothing to do with Christmas but it was on our TV and got us laughing, so who cares.
As I began mulling over our Irish holiday experience, (hey maybe that’s why it’s called “mulled wine”: In the end, you find yourself sitting in front of the fire mulling over so much more than the wine…). Anyway, I felt I needed to learn more about the Christmas traditions of this country I’m residing in. So far, it seems that it’s all the same as in the US: decorated trees, wrapping presents, meat and potatoes, family and friends, insanely ornate jumpers (translation: sweaters), twinkle lights, classic movies, carols, gatherings, baby Jesus, Santa Claus, elves, alcohol. But then I thought about our tradition of leaving cookies and milk out on Christmas Eve for Santa, and carrots for the reindeer. Do they do that here? I did my research and found something close: in Irish tradition, you leave a loaf of bread and a pitcher of milk on the kitchen table, with a lit candle in the window and the door left unlatched. This is so that Mary and Joseph, or any wandering traveler, would find shelter and feel welcome. Poor Mary and Joseph, they sure must feel neglected in the US! And what about Santa Claus? We require him to force his jolly old self down our chimneys! Even though he brings us gifts, expecting nothing in return but for us to be on the “nice” list. Santa, I’m pretty sure you got that idea from baby Jesus, but that’s okay, it’s a good one. I got thinking, what if, we all unlatched our doors? What if we all had a little more faith? What if, instead of worrying so much about ourselves, we opened up and welcomed the unfamiliar? What would happen? Would we be taken advantage of, like our worries tell us we will? Or might we gain a magnificent, precious gift? And what if that gift was worth the chance of being robbed?
This tradition is a perfect example of the generous, welcoming hearts of the Irish people. Joe and I have only been here two months, yet we comment quite often about how kind the local people are. I have to confess, on that run through the rain I mentioned earlier, I actually turned around and went back home when the downpour became too much for me to handle. I let Joe finish his workout, and hoped he wouldn’t melt! That evening he mentioned that on his way home, a man had stopped in his car, rolled down the window, and, with a wave through the raindrops, shouted to him “Happy Christmas!” Joe was impressed with the friendliness. That guy’s door must have been unlatched the night before. And so might that of my new friend James and his gal Yvonne, who we met for drinks at Dolans pub downtown last weekend. They bought us the first round of Guiness, welcomed us to meet their friends, gave us a lift home, and have offered connections to find work here in Ireland. Jordan from Cork has also been helpful, passing along my resume and making phone calls. Despite the economy which makes finding work an issue here in Ireland lately, and the fact that Joe and I haven’t known them longer than it takes Santa to struggle down your chimney, these folks seem to be keeping the candle lit and the door unlatched.
With the news of a tragic school shooting back home, and another after a Seahawks win a few nights ago, it must be hard for people to even consider leaving their doors unlatched. I could just picture someone wanting to try it out; sure, they’d leave their door unlocked, but they’d also wait up next to it all night with a baseball bat and a can of pepper spray just incase. The big risk is: What if, while I’m distracted by having faith in humankind and all that is good, someone hurts me or the people I love? Unfortunately, I know that is what’s on everyone’s mind who reads my plea to leave your door unlocked in hopes of gaining faith, peace, love or whatever it is you need. So, my Christmas prayer this year is for us all, as one people, to let go of our fears for one night, light a candle in the window, unlatch our hearts and feel hope- that a brilliant gift will come into our lives.
We wish our family, friends and all the wandering travelers out there a very Happy Christmas!