Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year’s Eve/New Year 2014 at Home

It all begins with a Feast!

The Feast has long been a part of my New Year’s Eve Celebrations. It’s as important as other traditions. Things like Midnight phone calls and banging pots and pans whilst screaming “Happy New Year” to the top of your lungs outside, sipping champagne (or other bubblies) and to a newer extent dancing with my Husband at the stroke of Midnight, and of course singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

We do these things out of a sense of tradition, a sense of bringing the best of the outgoing and each past year, forward with us into the new one. They are like touchstones for us. They are like “home”. Home is an interesting and evolving word. It means so much more than bricks and mortar. Home is a much bigger concept than a simple postal address. With these things on my mind I posted the following on FaceBook in the early hours of 2014:

“Just a thought.....
This morning I rung in 2014 in Howth, Ireland with my Hubby; I stayed up and rung in 2014, 5 hours later, with The NYC Ball Drop in Times Square on Live Stream. I am totally amazed at what new tech provides. To think, when I first emigrated tonight's activities were IMPOSSIBLE; sharing this Post, also IMPOSSIBLE. When I emigrated there was No Live Stream, No YouTube, No FaceBook, No other varieties of Social Media and CERTAINLY NO Skype!! Social Media in its present form truly allows you to live in two places at the same time. To me, it's amazing. You can literally emigrate, without missing a beat. It's like emigrating without leaving home. There is now an entire generation that knows nothing of steeply expensive phone calls that meant hearing actual real voices was something that only happened every few months. Seeing faces meant waiting for the postal package containing the photographs. Photographs, remember those? Everything is INSTANT and Home really is two places at once. I am happy for this generation's emigrants that they will never know the pain and hardship that went before. But, if I'm honest, I'm also sad for them. For it's also an opportunity lost. It's awfully hard to spread your wings completely with one feather still touching the nest.”

After I posted this on FaceBook, I could not help but have a thought for my family of past generations who emigrated from Ireland in very different circumstances than the one which saw me immigrate into Ireland. I have always been nothing short of amazed by their tenacity, strength and sheer determination. I heard over and over, always in the midst of a Story, that “you come from strong stock”. The Stories taught me that. But, it was not until I emigrated myself that I fully appreciated it. But, to be honest, compared to them I am spoiled! You can not, in a million years, compare the two Immigrant Stories. Immigration is not what it was, nor are Immigrants. Our experience is like a 5-Star Hotel compared to their Box on the Street. I can never express the awe I have for them, nor the appreciation for what they did, the chance they took and the “strong stock” they were made of. If not for them, there would have been no ‘return’ generations later for me. I look at this generation of Immigrants, with one feather still in the nest and I realize that to past generations, even with the absence of Social Media, they would have branded my experience as much the same. Could I do what they had to do? I don’t know. I would like to think there is enough of the “strong stock” still present to make it so. 

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