I’m sure you’ve seen the TV ads for ancestry.com where the people talk about how they thought they were one nationality but after having their heritage researched came to find out they were really another one or two altogether.
Watching those adds always made me wonder how so many people seemingly had no clue as to their family’s historical background/nationality. Was it that their family never talked about their history or passed down the family stories or history or were they in fact too ashamed of who they are, what happened or where they were from.
As I have come to find out over time I didn’t have to look further than my own family tree to get a hint of the truth of the matter.
Since as long as can remember my father drilled into we kids the supposed fact that our ancestors on his side came from England. As proof, he showed us a framed document from some heritage research group that not only said we were English but also that we were related to the Earl of Hayden and had noble blood in us.
Also framed was the supposed family crest and family credo of “Herm En Foy” (Firm in Faith).
As sort of the family black sheep, I didn’t inherit much from my parents but as the “man” in the family I was given that framed crest and letter which until recently I hung on the wall of our home.
I say until recently because my older sister recently did a dna analysis and found out we aren’t English at all but instead of Irish descent. It burns me to think of all of the St Patrick’s day celebrations and parties I missed out of because of it. Not that there was any harm in being English but heck, you are what you are.
From what my sister found out, our ancestors were not only Irish but supposedly of a lower class who toiled making buttons which from what she was told was the lowest class of workers way back when.
And the con by our parents didn’t stop there. Once, as children, we were drive out into the Pennsylvania countryside to the town of Birchrunsville and shown what was supposedly the family’s palatial estate where pictures were taken so we could all develop tham and frame a copy to hang on our walls proudly.
We were told that out grandfather who died long before we were born had owned the estate and that he was a prominent Philadelphia attorney. We later found the family never owned the estate and that our grandfather was actually a constable in that city and not an attorney.
These are only a few of the tales we were told not to mention the things we weren’t told about the family that were later discovered.
To me it’s both sad and disturbing that so many families like ours were deprived of knowing their actual heritage and family history due most likely to either embarrassment or shame.
In truth, most, if not all families, have some warts in their family history and in a way that’s only natural and makes for great story telling. As a writer I understand that not too many people want to read a novel where all of the characters have no flaws. The world simply isn’t like that and it certainly doesn’t make for good reading.
It’s also sad that children like me and my sisters were finally left wondering what to believe about our family and it’s history. That fact of the matter is, especially in this day and age with technology, the truth will come out sooner or later so why hide it in the first place.
Bottom line, we are who and what we are with all of our flaws and warts as well as our gifts and blessings and that’s ok and nothing to be ashamed of. So embrace it all and don’t feel the need to be ashamed or embarrassed by who and what you are, where you came from or what dark history lurks down in your family tree and you will most likely be a lot happier.
As for me, You’ll certainly see me wearing the green next St. Patties day.
In the interim have a great week and I hope to see you here again soon.
P.S. Sorry I haven’t blogged in a while but I needed to take a break from it and recharge my batteries so to speak.