Emigration Diary: Trading Traditions
We’ve fallen back into the routine of our new normality since the hurricane. We had another storm since my last post, a nor’easter that grounded flights, halted public transport and covered the tri-state area with about 6 inches of snow in the space of a few hours. I almost cried when our power went off again so soon. Thankfully, it came back after only an hour. It took George and my mom hours to get home from work because of delays and cancellations with the trains. Alone with the kids in the cold and dark, I managed to finish cooking a stew on the trusty old camping stove and even light a fire. I felt like Bear Grylls.
The kids had another day off school after being back only one day since Sandy. The schools have already used up all of their snow days and it’s still only November. We tested the kids’ new snow boots and built a pirate snowman. His hat perched on a lump of melting ice became the only evidence of the snowstorm by the following day. The sun came out and we were finally cut a weather break. My five year old declared ‘Yesterday was Winter but now It’s Fall again!’ I certainly never expected extreme weather conditions, sustained power loss and gas rationing when I moved to New York; to think one of the reasons I wanted to leave Ireland was the weather! Since this week, it is now possible to get gas without lining up for hours or having to check if your registration plate is odd or even to match the date where we are. There is still rationing in Manhattan and some other places. The storm debris from Sandy is slowly being removed from outside people’s houses and charities are out in force collecting food and money for families on the South Shore that have lost their homes and livelihoods.
The majority of people I follow on Twitter are still in Ireland. I watched the preceding arguments and saw the shockingly low turnout for the Children’s Rights referendum and I read the horrific story of Savita Halappanavar and witnessed the resulting outrage and amazingly high turnout for the vigils and protests in her name. Reading tweets makes me feel both very close and very far away. Of course, I have strong opinions on both of these issues. If I was there I would probably have been extremely vocal on them, but I am not, I am here, and I wonder if I have given up the right to have more than a passing interest in them. I did not rush back to Ireland to use my vote and I did not take part in any vigil demanding belated legislation, nor do I plan to for any issues in the future. Irish law doesn’t directly affect me anymore. It leaves me feeling a little bit lost. We are still Irish citizens, but my family is now permanently resident in a land which has its own children’s and healthcare laws which vary widely from state to state. I am not even fully familiar with the laws in my own county yet. No doubt bugbears will catch up with me in time and I’ll end up passionately standing up for something or other. I did sign a petition to keep the local post office open. I guess that’s a start.
Later this week is our first Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward embracing this new tradition. It’s like Christmas without the presents; an early taste of turkey and cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving is multi-denominational and observed by all. We have a lot to be thankful for on this first celebration. Not least that we’ve survived over four months here now and we’re still pretty sure we did the right thing. We wouldn’t have been happy with a smooth ride, would we? I’m thankful that the kids have settled so well into their new lives and I’m thankful to have had the support of my family and to have been made to feel so welcome. I know we’ve had ups and downs but there’s something to be said for taking the time to focus on the good things even if it is only once a year. I’m also excited to embrace another great American tradition this week – Black Friday. Well – I was never going to let a shopping day pass me by and we do need a new TV. So, in the spirit of the week, happy Thanksgiving Day from all of us in the US whether you celebrate it or not and thank you all for still reading.