I love stories. More particularly, I love stories about our past. What I love about family history stories is that they put in perspective the delicate balance of who our ancestors were and how what they did (or didn’t do) got us to be where we are today.
My 8 year old came home with an assignment last week whereas he was to identify the countries involved in his lineage. It involved a discussion about where Lois’ relatives were from (Italy and Ireland) and he didn’t seem to be as interested in where my family was from because “he came from Momma, not me.” But I said, “you are here because me and Momma came together. Both of our [Lois and my] histories are an equally important part of your past.”
He thought about it, then added the countries Germany, Scotland, England and Belgium to his list, which seemed to make him happy that his heritage was so expansive.
The next morning, I was driving to work when one of my favorite songs came on, “Ne’er Do Wells” by Audra Mae featuring Almighty Sound:
When I was nine years old
My daddy made me see
The story of the railroad
And how it came to be
He said the men who laid it down
Had left their own hometowns
And broke their backs to give us traction
And that’s what he did for me
Ne’er do wells and woebegones
Show your face, for we were wrong
Ne’er do wells and woebegones
Feel no shame, it won’t be long
Do you ever stop to think
Who built those walls around you?
Do you ever wonder
Who those people were at all?
Because the hands that give you shelter
Are the very ones that you refuse
And the proof of what they’re worth
Will live long after you are gone
NOTE: Audra Mae is amazing and you should totally check her out.
It really made me think about what perspective I was giving my kids about the lives that came before them. I think it’s easy to praise ourselves for where we’ve traveled through our own lifetimes, but I like really learning about the lives before us whose actions, interactions and fate led to us being here.
I’ve always been fascinated by history and didn’t need to be prompted to ask questions about my own history, but I realize that it’s time to start making sure that my kids know their stories as well. I want to make sure these legacies live on as much as possible.
I want them to know about their great-great grandfather coming to the US from Belgium delivering horses. I want them to hear that family folklore on the Robinson side is that we came over on the Mayflower (even though my father’s research can’t confirm that). I want to let them hear the stories about my ancestors, who slowly moved from Gloucester, MA all the way to California mostly because they were malcontents and were never happy with each place they settled for a short time. I want them to know everything about my grandparents and great aunts and uncles from my own memories. I want them to know about Lois’ family as much as she can keep the stories alive.
The stories of our past can be so remarkable and incredible, I feel we have to make sure we keep sharing them. I want my kids to appreciate that many living, breathing people made treks, survived tragedy and ventured into the unknown to allow us to be where we are today.
Does anyone else try to share some family folklore with their kids?