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“Ain’t No Party Like My Nana’s Tea Party”

So December is finally upon us, and with this last article, I will talk to you about my family and how our close-knit values have helped shape who I am as a semi-functional adult today (and I’ll really try my best to pepper in a few fun and hopefully embarrassing memories about my family). Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Firstly in terms of structure, there is a stereotype of Irish families to be really really big, which in part is true; I have many friends with 60+ first cousins and even more second cousins. That’s crazy to me! But hey, as we say back home, not everyone owns a TV… (If you don’t get that joke, you never will)

The first and only time my brother was happy about having two new siblings!

As for my family, I have fairly complex pyramid. Firstly there are my two parents (Helen and Connor) and my older brother Adam, 23 (I think), and my twin sister Tasha, 21. Nothing too complex there. Growing up we had a very traditional childhood and were taught to be very self-sufficient. I grew up with 6 childhood friends that I still hang out with, and after all the personal problems we have all suffered, these 6 people would definitely be in my vein diagram of “Family.” I just had to include them as they are an essential part of my family life. Back-on-track, my siblings and I had the standard sibling rivalry for each other and would interchange who ganged up on whom on a daily basis i.e. I would wake up with my brother as my best friend and would go to sleep with him as my “mortal enemy” and my sister as my bestie. Middle-class “struggs” were so real haha. Since I was born, myself, my siblings, and the majority of my cousins would go to my granny’s house almost every Sunday of the year (that’s approximately 1115 “granny Sunday’s” so far), and we’d gossip and exchange the news of the week. The adults would eat cakes and biscuits in the living room whereas the children would be let loose on the biscuit tin in the kitchen and would be able to gossip about which school friend they now hated. There is an undefined grey-area of an age whereby you essentially are promoted into the “elite” adult circle. That’s where you want to be. The fact that I live 5 doors away from my grandparents means that I saw them several times a week and have since decided I am the self-proclaimed favourite grandchild (as we all attempt to prove). I now have 30 first-cousins, with the recent addition of 6 second cousins that have earned first-cousin status to me, 3 cousins-in-law, 2 cousins once-removed, and expecting a third 🙂

Emma, Evelyn, Rose, Caoimhe, Sarah & Ben: My childhood friends.

First day of school

My Granny Rose is top of the pecking order on my father’s side of the family, along with her much quieter sidekick, granddad Jim. They are a very traditional catholic family and most recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary together. They have been the glue in my family and we all raise each other and help each other during struggles. My granny will be the butt of every single joke but will always shake it off with a smile or grumble at us and then we’ll all laugh about it and start again. That’s the circle of life right?? This was my family dynamics for a long time until I entered adolescence.

Queen Bee and the Main Man himself

When I was 10 my parents separated and divorced on the most amicable terms possible, and everything they did and breathed after this was for the betterment of me and my siblings. From then we were carted every week from dad’s house to mum’s house, back to dad’s house and then once again to mum’s. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. My parents still offered to drive us to see our other parent whenever we wanted and were very supportive of including each other in our lives but I definitely felt like Jacqueline Wilson’s “The Suitcase Kid” (A children’s book I finished reading months before my parents announced their split… spooky). Even during this time I would go to Granny Sunday’s and still see most of my family. Currently my parents don’t often speak and will interact through myself and my siblings; which usually suits everyone and works more smoothly than you’d think.

Dad and I clearly having a great time over something. I'm obviously a style guru just like he was...

My family heritage on my father’s side is solely Irish; however my mother is a bit more diverse: Irish, English, Scottish and French. My granny (mother’s mother) lives in the South of England just a short drive from my uncle Paddy (Every Irish person has an uncle Paddy: that is rule #1) and Aunt Teresa, and we nicknamed her Nanny England (her real name is Janet and she still maintains that she is too young to be a granny, ergo: Nanny). Unfortunately, I don’t see these three wee gems as often as I’d like however when we do arrange to meet each other it is fantastically fun and casual, and usually there are always a few empty bottles and sore heads in the morning. My mother is famous for her parties and although tries to maintain a clean, good-girl image, I know she was just as much of a reckless party animal as my reputation seems to indicate (read the campus safety report for further details). 3 years ago my mother got married to my step-dad and moved in permanently with him. One of the proudest moments of my life was watching the ceremony and being so involved in the event. The dancing and drinking afterwards was also very much appreciated; and when they both went on their honeymoon myself and my friends also had a few unforgettable (using that word in this context is hilariously ironic) celebrations of our own in her party-famous house…. in honour of the happy couple of course. Sorry mum, haha. In fact, during one particular soiree the flat-screen TV fell off the table; a fact I’m sure my mum will be thrilled to hear here for the first time but hey if you can still love your child when you’re ~4,500 miles away then material things shouldn’t matter, right Helen?! xo

My mother's wedding day. Thoughts on the purple hair choice?

My father also has a partner, and she herself has 3 children just a little younger than me, so there are a lot of complex connections around my close, nuclear family. Currently (before I earned my Willamette education) myself, Tasha & Adam lived in my dad’s house due to its locality to all three of our workplaces. My father split his time between the house we stay in, and the house his girlfriend and children live in. Because of this (and my unusual and unpredictable working hours), some of us could go up to a fortnight without seeing each other despite living in the same house as each other. My mother lives in a house about 30 minute’s walk away, with my step-dad.

It’s clear that the term “modern” family is definitely applicable to my situation here, and leaving them all for a year was definitely a difficult decision but so far I still maintain it was the right one. Hopefully they are reading this and missing me just as much too. Hopefully this thanksgiving American students who gave thanks for family remembered than not everyone will see their family this year, but that won’t stop me from enjoying every last minute I can here in Oregon. And on that surprisingly sentimental note, I bid you readers all a wonderful and close Christmas with the one’s you love, whilst I myself will have a festively ecstatic time in Las Vegas with friends gambling away my Goudy meal points 🙂 Good luck for finals and I will see each and every one of you next semester for more quirky tales and exciting articles.

The whole fam!

Most of my close, nuclear gang. More poor hair decisions to come in future articles.

Look into my eyes (and notice the colour difference)!

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