Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox, 1985
(I like to think they're looking at me about to be born the following year.)
It's a somewhat existential journey, genealogy. Then again, that could be said for any historical research. But, there is a huge emotional factor to family research: My grandparents were so happy that someone was finally seriously sitting down and asking them questions, the answers of which they had been sitting on for years.
So, the other day I was hanging out with my grandma. Ah, grandma. She manages to say the darndest things about gender and sexuality. Like when she ran into the groundskeeper who was uprooting a giant vine creeping over a building my Grandma liked. She wanted to thank the groundskeeper for the work that was being done and the conversation unfolded like this:
"What's your name?" says my Grandma.
"Bridget," responds the groundskeeper, back turned, pulling off giant plant.
"But, that's a girl's name!" says my Grandma.
"Yes. I'm a woman," says Bridget.
"But you're so strong!" says my Grandma.
When she told me this story I offered that I introduce her to some of my female rugby player friends sometime. I don't think she caught on to the hint with that one, but ANYWAY, back to the topic at hand.
You Know How White People Always Say "I'm from everywhere!" To Try To Cover Up Their Sense Of Lacking Ethnic-Cultural Identity?
Yea. I was one of those kids at school who wanted to feel cool. So I said I was French, German, English, Scottish, Irish and Dutch. Just for the heck of it. Ironically, it turns out my descendants really are from France, Germany, England, Scotland, Ireland and Dutchland.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a recovering Anglophile. I think what began this sordid love affair with British culture was the fact that I had been told since I was little I had a British Grandma and that the English were better at handling things like universal healthcare, minimum wage and women's rights. Go figure.
Yet, here was a new battle to face: With this genealogical project it became clear that I'd have to face that fact that I'm not just one thing--and also that there's a chance I could be more Swiss or German or French than the one English line I already knew about.
In order to answer this unknown, I had to lay out all the main players in my genealogical story.
Pictures Help Explain Everything
What you see below is a screen shot of my direct relatives (i.e., only the children I'm directly related to and their respective parents) going back four generations:
After doing some more research, I can now sum up what this means, geographically:
|Swiss 2, French-Canadian 1, Irish 2, Dutch 1, German 1, English 4|
|Protestants 6, Catholics 2, Atheists FTW|
I can't help it, but when I look at this I have the urge to write in after Anglicans: descended from Catholics but then Henry VIII was like YO' POPE, I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DIVORCE DEES BIZNATCHES, etc., etc. But, that's me giving into my history-geek. I also have the urge to put up the part of Africa my particular human gene pool is descended from but I think that's going too far.
Ok, so I didn't think that was going too far but I couldn't find the National Geographic blood sample results that my dad had done for my sister and I, so I'm just going to move on.
Back To The Future...Again
Coming back into the year of 2011 I'm trying to judge exactly where I'm at and also where the world is at. Back when my ancestors hit the USA they were just a few of the Swiss, German, Scottish and Irish immigrant families that were coming over in waves due to their homelands treating them like crap. But, in coming here they were treated like crap by the Been-Here-Three-Generations-More-Than-You White People.
Today, when I think of immigrant families who are coming to the USA in waves (and being treated like crap for it again) I think of Mexicans or Guatemalans. What trips me out is that I immediately think to myself, how many kids are going to be saying three generations from now in their blog? "I'm descended from these peeps who were treated like crap" ?
And BAM. History. You're in it. You're in their history right now.
I gotta ask, what's it like being in the past?