ST. PATRICK’S DAY IS A BIG HOLIDAY IN MY FAMILY — and not because we’re Irish or even big beer drinkers.
It’s because my father, Eric Sonneman, a refugee from Nazi Germany, arrived in this country on March 17, 1939. He was 28 years old.
When his ship arrived in New York on St. Patrick’s Day, the passengers were greeted by a band playing Irish music at the pier. My father knew nothing about St. Patrick’s Day, but his uncle, a recent immigrant himself who had met my father’s ship, insisted on going to Fifth Avenue to see the fabulous parade.
“I thought this is a wonderful country, to welcome the immigrants with a band and a parade!” my father always said. (A more complete story is here.)
Now I always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a day to remember my dad’s wonderful introduction to America.
The traditional food for the day, of course, is corned beef and cabbage, but that has never appealed to me. Something-or-other green (and a little Guinness stout) is enough for me. Last year I was fancy with the decorated lemon tart, but this year I’m lazier, and I’m just making my bright-green parsley soup (the recipe is here, though I now use my hand-blender) and some oatmeal-currant scones. It’s my own little St. Pat’s tradition. Anything green will do, though — even a green salad!
The important thing is the toast. I’ll be toasting my dad and the country that welcomed him.