Giving Thanks for Family, Past and Present


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! This is Tom, thanking Kim for all she does by giving her a week’s respite from blogging duties.

Family. It’s what we celebrate most on this holiday. And connecting our grandchildren with their family heritage is part of what we try to do each summer.

In previous posts Kim has mentioned trips we’ve made. Last summer it was to Ohio to show the girls where she grew up and where we and their mother later lived. The summer before it was to Connecticut to visit my dad and sister and to learn about an area of the state my mom’s family settled in the 1630s.

Through books, music, dolls and — in the case of a Japanese tea set, literally — we’ve given the girls a taste of their cultural roots.

Another layer was added to this experience this past summer. We went out and bought huge maps of the world and the United States that showed the borders but not names of present-day countries and states.

Then we dove into the genealogy I had done for our families and made a list. From what countries did our ancestors emigrate? In what states have members of our families lived?

With that information in hand, we proceeded to color those countries and states. It was interesting to see what countries and states the girls could identify on their own. It was interesting to see what countries and states Kim and I could identify on our own! For the rest we turned to the trusty Internet.

There’s more, of course, to genealogy than where our ancestors lived. So many stories await discovery. The girls’ dad is half Japanese and half Okinawan and his parents were born and raised in Hawaii. What can we learn about those places and their people and culture? Kim is descended from kings and queens of just about every European country going. Why have royal families so often intermarried and what impact has that had on the course of those nations? My mother’s family counts at least three Mayflower passengers and a Jewish heritage we knew nothing about. What brought those ancestors to these shores and what lives did they build here?

As you can see, there’s fodder for many more summer adventures. Perhaps for you, too. Enjoy!