Tag Archives: tree

Where did I come from? Who did I come from?

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The age old question of children:  “Where did I come from? ”  It’s our nature to what to know where we came from.  I think that is for many reasons.  Knowing where we came from explains our present and can guide our futures.  And in answering that question of where, we grow up wanting to know more about the ‘who’ behind that where.

We come from our parents, obviously.  We are the genetic makeup of our parents and their parents and so forth and so on back to Adam and Eve.   Of course, after Noah and the Great Flood, I guess we should say back to Noah and his family.

And then Abraham had Israel and Ishmael.  Ishmael being the son of Abraham’s wife’s servant Hannah was sent away and so the Arab world can trace its roots back to  him.  Israel was the father of the Jewish world which begat the Christian world, since Jesus was Jewish and the Christ whose followers are Christians.

And as these cultures spread throughout the world, they propagated and created countries and traditions and cultures that are handed down generation to generation.

I said all of that to say this:  I have been working on my family tree.  I have always been interested in my family members and who went where and who did what.  I loved listening to my paternal grandmother explaining what her sisters did and what her father built.  Or listening to my mother talk of her family’s farm.

We go to school and learn history and then as we get older to understand that our aunts, uncles, etc were in that war or were a part of that piece of history.

And then in the late 1970’s, Alex Haley wrote a book which became the first TV mini-series: Roots.  He had traced his family history back and then sparked an interest in the hearts of millions by sharing his story, his history, with the world.   One of those hearts that got sparked was my Aunt Janet.   She organized our family’s first reunion in the early 1980’s.  Her mother, my paternal grandmother, had died in 1980 and it was obvious that the family was beginning to lose touch with each other.  And so for years we met once a year to catch up with one another, share stories, embrace the new family members and remember those that had left us.

This is when my heart got sparked to start working on the family tree…in my own little way.  I did it all my hand and only concerned myself with my dad’s family from his parents down.  And our family has grown since those days.

Fast forward to March 2011 when my boyfriend gifted me with Family Tree Maker*.  Ok, this is NOT an ad for the program so don’t think that I’m trying to sell anything.  I mention it for one thing: it helped me organize my tree in a more consistent manner and it came with a 1 month subscription to Ancestry.com*.   And that is when my spark became a flame that became a wildfire.  I had to have a subscription!  And no I’m not selling Ancestry.com either.  But I will say it made this couch potato’s love of history come to life as I was able to find my family roots back to the arrival into the United States.  (I have my hands full enough with just this section of my family history–maybe one day I’ll try to trace the German and French and other foreign language records.)  But I do encourage you to find a way to organize your notes and papers.  And there are many many websites to help you along your journey…many of which are free.

I have enjoyed exploring not only my roots, but the roots of all those that are or have been a part of the family.  I have learned of family that registered or were drafted into World War I, World War II, and the Korean War.  There are members that only served in peace time, and those that are currently serving.  And although my direct roots did not come to America until the 1870-1880’s,  I found some Confederate States of America soldiers.

My father’s family came to this country from Germany  and landed in Baltimore on their way to St Louis, Missouri.   My mother’s family came from Germany and entered through the port of New Orleans on their way to Illinois.   Dad’s family were laborers.  Mom’s family were farmers.

Dad’s family stayed in and around St Louis, except for the women who followed their husbands to new homes out of state.  Mom’s family moved to Mississippi and Arkansas for farms.

And through this entire journey over the last year, I have come to understand a bit more about myself.  I come from strong German families that labored in factories and labored in the fields.  One side lived in the city and the other side in rural areas.   Although German, diversity came together in my parents.  Mom was raised in the South with its traditions and social differences.  Dad was raised in the North with its own identity.   Even their Catholicism was different.  I like to think that I have the best of both worlds.

Our family grew and spread throughout the United States and the next generation is carrying that on.  Each of us bringing the traditions and cultures we have learned with us, whether we realize it or not.   Our parents influence our speech, our walk, our values, our morals–we can’t escape it.  We might not agree, but their influence still affected us.

We each have a history inside of us.  And as we live our lives, and co-exist with the previous and future generations, we share that history with their history.   All I know is that I understand more about who I am, who I came from and where I want to go.

So if you are searching for who you are–try looking into your tree.  You just might be surprised.

 

* Family Tree Maker and Ancestry.com are from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Provo, Utah.

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Christmas–the Celebration of Christ

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Christmas, that time of year when people go crazy about giving gifts and partying.  And somewhere, somehow the true meaning of the Day gets lost in the shuffle.

It’s not about the things we give to each other, nor the cards we send.  It’s not about the decorations on the tree or the house, nor is it about stockings and candy.

It is about a God who loved his creations so much, that He sent his only Son to earth to live with us, to teach us, and to eventually die for us.  It’s about a woman, Mary,  young and unwed that had the courage to say yes when Gabriel came to announce that she would bear a child without knowing man.  It’s about a man who believed this woman and stood by her.  It’s about her family who took care of her and saw her married to Joseph.

It’s about 9 months of watching her cousin, Elizabeth, and her child John, and learning from her.  It’s about God’s plan for these 2 boys, John and Jesus–one to prepare the way for the other decades later.

There are arguments as to whether he was born in a manger in a stable or if he was born in a house.  There are arguments as to when he was born, some say spring, others say winter.  And to me, it really doesn’t matter.  What matters to me is…..he was born of a virgin as the prophecies foretold.  He was born; he didn’t fall from the sky, he was not trained and ordained.  He was sent to be born and live as one of us…part of mankind.

This time of year sends people into a frenzy as to where to go, who to see, for how long and what will the kids think if they don’t get what they wanted for Christmas.  And unlike the decorations, cards, gifts, and other memorabilia of the season, Christ Jesus remains.  Everyday, all day, for eternity.

A nephew of mine mentioned in a Facebook post that at the age of 23 going on 50 that he couldn’t think of anything he wanted to receive, instead he came up with many reasons to give.  He mentioned the child without life’s necessities and the lonely elders, the homeless men and women, and the deployed military troops.

And then there is my sister.  She is the mother of 13 children (12 living now) spanning 2 decades.  She spends her days taking her children where they need to be; taking care of her husband; taking care of her home; and giving her time and energies to those who need help.  She has a great faith and trusts in the Lord to see her through the days and nights.  She trusts in Jesus Christ to provide for her family’s needs.  And to her, Jesus is the reason for the Season.

She rarely has the funds to give her children a little extra here or there, but she does her best to get each one something they want and not just what they need during this time.  And even times like this year when due to an insurance error that took all of her money for gifts, she is making the best of it.  Her husband at her side supporting her to do what she does best–making a dollar buy more than any woman I know.  But she knows it is not the gifts, but the birth of her Savior that is the reason for this Season.

My friend Chris is another example of knowing that it is people, not material goods that mean the most.  When hearing what happened to my sister, she went into high gear to send some funding to try to help.  She also enlisted the help of her friends and family to help my sister.  This is the meaning of Christmas–giving to others.

It’s about being like Christ.  Human beings teaching, giving, and loving others as Christ Himself taught, gave and loved.   It is remembering that this season is not about ribbons and bows, dinners and drinks, gifts and decorations  It is remembering that this season is about in the darkest of days, there is a light that came into this world, and His name is Jesus, Immanuel, God is with Us.

Have a very merry Christmas, and may the Christ, the Messiah, Jesus our Lord bless each and every one of you with the mercies and graces that only He can give us.