In keeping with Patrick’s ever-improving Irish accent, I’d like to wish everyone a very Happy Tanksgiving from Teach Bhríde. To Patrick’s dismay, no one gave us any large military vehicles as gifts this week, but to the community’s delight, people from our parish gave us many handshakes, hugs, and even a few kisses as they congratulated us (yes), wished us Happy Tanksgiving, or, my personal favorite, wished us Happy Feast (I mean, how precious is that?).
We spent all week researching recipes, calling our moms to ask if turkeys can be thawed in a bathtub (answer: “Gross. No.”), grocery shopping (Tesco is even more fun at 12:30am), and cooking in our epic kitchen, where we laughed, had dance parties, spilled things, and shared stories of Thanksgivings past into the wee hours of the morning. All of the preparations culminated in last night’s feast, held in Fr. Denis’s home. Surrounded by 32 of our friends from the parish, including Bishop Denis Brennan as well as priests and members of the Clonard Parish pastoral staff, we blessed the meal by singing “For the Beauty of the Earth,” our community’s evening hymn at the end of every Wednesday choir rehearsal. Everything, and I mean everything, was home-made from scratch. Even the bread. Each member of the community contributed recipes and traditions from our own families, resulting in a meal that looked like something you’d see depicted in a Norman Rockwell painting, and tasted like something you’d eat at Martha Stewart’s house.
The evening was marked by conversation, laughter, and of course, a lively music session following the meal. We sang, clapped, danced, and laughed long into the night, and when it was time for the evening to end, the people to whom we are so grateful thanked us for the celebration by inviting everyone to circle up, cross arms, join hands, and sing “Auld Lang Syne.” It was the perfect end to an unforgettable evening.
Our gratitude goes out to Fr. Denis for the use of his home, as well as the rest of the parish team and the Clonard Parish Council for its unwavering support. Many thanks as well to Bishop Denis for making time in his demanding schedule to come and celebrate with us. Thanks most especially to all of our families for the tastes and traditions of home that mean so much to each one of us; it meant so much to be able to share those with the people who have made Wexford home for us since our arrival.
Without the frenzy of Black Friday, we enjoyed a restful day today by catching up on sleep (or hitting the golf course in Patrick’s case), cleaning up the remaining aftermath of epic food preparations, and decorating our home for the Christmas season. Even though each of us misses home this time of year, we are so fortunate to be in a place where we are surrounded by loving and supportive friends, and I can only think of the first verse of our community’s hymn to convey what we encountered in yesterday’s celebration:
For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love that from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all to Thee we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise.