Family History Month
Does your family history interest you? August is Family History month here in New Zealand and as I have been very enthusiastic about researching my own history, I thought I would use this subject to post items this month.
Do you ever watch any of the versions of “Who Do You Think You Are” on TV? Each time I see a celebrity tracing their family history I’m astonished at how little they usually know at the beginning of their journey. This has made me so much more appreciative of my story-telling mother. Over the years she introduced me to everything she knew about her parents, grandparents, great grandparents etc, as well as details about where they’d come from. Stories of the hardships they faced when arriving to settle in a new country added realism and turned the mere names into real people.
We are quickly losing the idea of passing our family history onto future generations through oral stories from the elders to the young. As a child without television to fill our evenings, much of our time, particularly in winter, was spent around the fireplace reading or listening to Mum’s tales. Sadly, unlike my mother, I myself am guilty of not sharing very much of my ancestry with my own children. I’ve become stuck in the mindset of “they’ll ask me if they’re interested” and “if they’re not interested, why bother talking about it”. Both ideas are very destructive to the idea of preserving our genealogy.
I dream of one day sorting through all the notes and photos and paraphernalia I’ve collected since I began researching at about 20 years of age. I dream of collating everything in such a way my children and their children beyond them will treasure this information as I treasure it. But since I started my new career, I find my efforts are focused on writing romance stories, rather than sorting out family history. Dedicating one day a week to family history a few years ago, made little impact on my boxes and boxes of ‘stuff’ I’d collected – I saw the need for focused time, not the occasional day, probably not even weeks, more likely months was needed to produce anything of value for myself or those who follow me. Once I’d realised this, it was very easy to allow that one day a week to slip aside and tell myself I needed to continue with my romance writing if I wanted to make a career for myself as a writer.
While my interest in my family’s past has never waned, my enthusiasm lessened as I realised I had probably done everything I could do, found out everything it was possible to find. Instead of doing further research, today and for the last fifteen to twenty years I have enjoyed the contacts I’ve made with “cousins” in England, Scotland and on the Shetland Islands. I have visited the homelands from whence my ancestors came to New Zealand. I have seen their homes, whats left of their homes, or the land where their homes once stood. Perhaps writing a few blog posts outlining my journey into the past during this month will re-establish my interest and force me to start sorting through those boxes.
I hope you might join me as I bring back some of those memories.