Well, here we go. I’m going to start this blog with a post talking about why I love family history so much and why I’ve decided to start a blog.
The first thing to share about myself is that I’m outrageously passionate about my own family history. Oddly enough, family history and genealogy seem to be hobbies that people don’t get involved in half-heartedly. It seems that everyone I hear about who is interested in family history could qualify as being obsessed. I certainly fall into that category.
Why is this? Why don’t most of us just list genealogy as yet another interest in a long list? Why does it grab us the way it does and then try to steal every minute of free time that we have?
The easy answer might be that it’s because of our personality type. The sort of person that is attracted to family history to start with tends to be the sort of detail-oriented person who gets excited about collecting and cataloging family data and information.
But I believe that the passion goes a little deeper than this. Most of us who get interested in genealogy start out by being passionate about history in general. Then, as we start collecting information about our own ancestors and we see where they fit into an historical narrative, history comes alive for us. We start with the stories about our parents or grandparents that we’ve heard over the years and we then imagine these stories playing out in the times and places that we read about in history books.
And because of our connection to our ancestors—a very permanent and direct connection–we become suddenly connected with history itself. And this connection draws us back into history in a way that no history book ever can. It’s as if the two-dimensional characters in the history books have become three-dimensional, fleshed out with names and faces that we know personally. Some would say that it’s even as if we go back in time ourselves, to live within our ancestors and see history as they themselves saw it.
So this passion is more than just a compulsion to collect, organize and publish our family data. It has more to do with touching some sort of energy that spans time and makes us all the same, regardless of what century we live in. It’s about feeling this energy inside of ourselves and realizing that we are just another actor in this ongoing story. And as we celebrate our ancestors’ lives and everything that they learned and love, we learn to celebrate our own lives with the same spirit, knowing that we come from them and that they are somehow still a part of us.
If we have children of our own, all of these family stories and the arc of our ancestors’ lives inspire us to live out the stories of a new generation. We have a sense of what it means for someone to live out a long life, rich in love, and so we do our best to live our own lives as richly as possible and pass that same love on to our children.
I confess that I’ve been completely consumed with this passion for family history, as many of us have. I grew up hearing so many wonderful stories about my grandparents and their families—and their stories made the past that they lived in come alive for me. I’m doing my best now to preserve what I’ve heard by gathering up these stories and photos, so that these ancestors won’t be entirely forgotten when my own generation has passed on. And, sooner rather than later, I need to start collecting the stories of my own generation, to pass them on to my children.
I’ve decided to start blogging because of my great passion for all of this. I want to share my passion with others out there who feel as I do about the joy that we get from engaging in this pastime. I have so many ideas about ways that we can collect, enjoy, and share all of these memories. I’m very eager to share them with others and to in turn gather new ideas that will help me do an even better job of preserving and sharing our precious family heritage.
These stories and this energy that we get from our ancestors is our heritage. It is something that has been passed on to us not just through a packet of photos that we find in a closet, but by virtue of the lives that our ancestors lived and all that they taught us. If we honor them, we will cherish these memories and do our best to preserve them. We have become our parents generation, and we have in turn become the keepers of these memories and of all that they taught us. For my part, I honor my family members who are no longer with us. And I in turn feel honored to be able to pass what I know of them on to my own children and to the next generation.