Know Your Story
In the not too distant past, I didn't care much about my family's genealogy. I knew about my parents and my grandparents, and that was sufficient for me. This viewpoint was completely the opposite of Alison's, which espoused the joy and adventure of both learning about your history and then going to visit those places. While studying abroad, she took a few trips to European ancestral hometowns and got a small taste of what her ancestors saw and did. For whatever reason, last year, I became intensely interested in my family’s story and embarked on a family genealogy project to learn all about my family tree. I've concluded that by understanding your family's story, you can better understand yourself.
We share a connectedness with our ancestors. At some point, someone in our family made the brave decision of getting on a boat and making the treacherous and uncomfortable boat trip across the Atlantic in hopes of a new and better life in the United States. Their bravery, determination, and frankly, their grit, set in motion a series of events that led to our lives here in America. We're living where we are because of them. Their sacrifices have yielded tremendous opportunities for us. Beyond just our physical location, we may be benefiting from all sorts of legacies that they left for us, including crafts, hobbies, careers, and faith. So much about what our ancestors did is reflected in our lives, perhaps even in our names.
It can be exciting to learn even the most mundane facts about our ancestors. You can see their handwriting in documents or glean their job history from census data. You might even learn that your ancestors just 100 years ago didn't know how to write. You might find their name on ship's manifests or see their marriage license. This time-traveling sleuthing is an adventure in and of itself.
I was wrong when I considered there to be little value in knowing my ancestor's story. Their story is my story. So much of me is because of them. I invite you to take some time, do some digging, and explore your own family's history. Know your story and have pride in the sacrifice that your ancestors made so that you can be who you are, where you are, in the land of opportunity.