Have you ever watched the television show Who Do You Think You Are? I love that show! Then again, I love anything that involves a person’s backstory. If you don’t know about it or haven’t seen it, I’ll summarize it for you in one word: genealogy.
The show focuses on celebrities tracing their family roots. I have to admit though, that by the first commercial break, I forget that the person is famous and just become interested in what he or she finds out.
By now, you might be asking yourself, “Why is Diane writing about a television show?”
It is really the subject of genealogy itself that interests me. For instance, do you know who YOUR ancestors are? How far back can you go in YOUR family tree? Is there a pattern in careers, community or military service, behavior, or events? As you can imagine, once you begin inquiring, one answer creates another question.
In my own life, I am fully aware that I have been blessed. My parents raised my sisters and I around grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was normal for us to attend holidays, family birthday parties, graduations, and weddings on a regular basis. A typical year of celebrations could include: New Year’s Day, Super Bowl, Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, 4th of July, Annual Family Beach Party, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. I don’t say this to boast, but to make a point. I never realized how important those moments were when I was younger. It was the only life that I knew.
It wasn’t until I grew up and spoke to others, that I understood the capacity of it all. I quickly learned that not everybody, either knew their relatives, or had developed a close relationship with them, like I had with mine. To this day, all of “the cousins” may not see each other as often as we like, but the foundation has been set. If anything happy, sad, challenging, or inspiring happens in one of our lives, there is always someone to congratulate us, encourage us, hug us, or just listen to us. For that, I believe that we all need to thank the generations before us. They made the effort and it has paid off.
It has now become my generation’s turn to pay it forward. Am I doing my part to carry on what my grandparents started? I believe that I am when I watch my son Damien. I love that he knows the names of his great-grandparents and other ancestors. I love that he appreciates having family in his life as much as I do. I love that he makes time for the people who have loved and supported him. Not all 20-something children do that! I also love that he has continued the tradition of greeting and hugging each family member when he arrives somewhere. In the end, I feel confident in knowing that when he has children, he too, will carry on the family traditions.
Why am I really writing this? Well, I think of the people whom I have spoken to who don’t know their relatives on a personal basis, never met them, didn’t know their names, or in some cases, didn’t even know that they existed.
In some instances, for whatever reason, a person, or family, choose to disconnect from the others. I am not one to judge their decision for that. However, I do believe that it then becomes their responsibility to gather the basic family tree information for future generations. He or she should not let anger, disappointment, hurt, or embarrassment interfere. Just write it down. Someone down the line will want to know about the past.
The bottom line is that NO person is perfect, which means that NO family is perfect. I admit that I am not in your shoes and I don’t know your situation. So, if all is good, then continue what’s working. If it’s not, then do your part. If you don’t like the patterns, then break the cycle. In the end, no one came into this world alone. Everyone was born, as a result of two people; and each of those people had a story, and so on, and so on. Add adoption and blended families and the tree becomes even bigger.
So, let’s do our part and write down what we know before it’s too late. Put the information on a website, like Ancestry.com, type the notes and keep a hard copy with your important papers, or email your notes to all of your children for future use. You can even record a video. Whatever you do, just know that there WILL always be someone who wants to know where they came from.
A family tree can wither if no one tends to its roots. ~Anonymous
The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are. ~Maya Angelou
Something to make you smile.
Friends come and go, but relatives tend to accumulate. ~Anonymous
Why waste your money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you. ~Mark Twain
Author’s note to the family: I sometimes listen to music when I write. Keep in mind that I have thousands of songs in my music library. So, I was pleasantly surprised, when halfway into writing, the song The Impossible Dream came on. I took it as confirmation from cousin Vinny that I was supposed to be writing about family this week.