Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Your Ancestors and Your Socks

"No one realizes the beauty of love, until you lose it"

Have you ever lost something and made yourself crazy revisiting and overturning  the same blasted couch cushions, or opening all of the kitchen drawers for the umpteenth time hoping that that trinket will magically appear? I do that all the time. But it rarely helps me to find what I'm looking for. I have a secret thing that I do when I have lost something. It works every time. 

I clean.

Socks are another story. Most times I abandon the search. The mate might be right in the drawer. Somewhere. But most times I can't be bothered . I can wear them mismatched. Or I might go sock-less.

I have to admit that my sock drawers are what I've heard are reflections or witnesses of creativity! I know what's in them. but they are a mess.

But I don't want to talk about socks just yet. I want to tell you what happened on Saturday.

I was lost. I couldn't find any excitement for family history. All of the stories were starting to feel the same. I was bored. I called my mom and she listened. It's good to talk when you're stuck. But talking wasn't helping me get unstuck either. I knew I need to do something. I glanced up at the clock. I remembered an assignment our family had to clean the church and realized I had 1/2 an hour to pull myself together if I was going to get there on time. My husband had just had surgery, the house was a mess, I was tired, and everyone but the 3 youngest children was sleeping. I said goodbye to my mom, threw on some clothes and raced to the church with the kids in tow. 

After plugging in the vacuum cleaner I walked to the family history center down the hall and poked my head in. I motioned to a woman on the phone that I was going to be noisy. Did she mind? She nodded and 10 minutes later met me in the hallway, her phone call ended.

We talked for about 15 minutes. By the end of the conversation I learned that our husbands might share some ancestors in common. She told me a story of one of them. I went home and reread the story online and cleared up some questions I'd had about Nathan Cross and his kidnapping by Indians in New Hampshire in the mid 1800's. I was thrilled to have been fed such a feast out of the blue.

Neither Pat, my new friend, nor I had planned on being in the church building that morning. But we both got up and out of the house in response to a feeling of being lost and doing what was right in front of us. 

Now back to socks. But let's not go all the way back.

Do you know your ancestors? Do you even have a curiosity about them, or are you like me? You think you know them, where they are, and what their lives were about. You consider yourself unattached from them. They have nothing to offer you. They are replaceable. They are things in the past and their stories are over.

They are your socks in your sock drawer. You know where to find them, but you'd just as soon get rid of them and replace them with new ones that fit, have no holes, and are stilled paired nice and neatly, ready whenever you need them. It's a hassle to sift through the clutter.

If that's not your sock drawer OR  the state of your family history I'm preaching to the choir. You are who I am on my good days! Days when I'm searching, finding and feasting. I need no convincing of the value of family history on those days.

When it comes to family history I may be looking for people, but I'm finding stories. And within those stories I always find myself. I find my physical, emotional, and spiritual DNA. My joy is in decoding it and finding what's in it for me.

Genealogy is the matching of the socks. It's the searching and analyzing to see which belongs to which, and where I might be able to find the missing one.

Family history is the washing and mending of them. It's the story behind the holes and the snags and the smells. It's where you make a love connection. Does that make sense?

So, think about something for me for a bit today when life might feel dull, or you feel a teeny bit lost. Or maybe you just can't put your finger on that little nagging feeling that's something's missing, but you insist everything is in order.

Think of your ancestors like socks. They may be old and smelly, holey and mismatched. But they're yours.

Let me help you find them.

Here's a chart to download and to get enlarged and printed. Tell the printer to change the file from JPEG to PDF.

4 Generation / Family Group Chart ~ 18x24" Download  (This really is a link. Click on it. Please tell me if it doesn't work!)

It's a worksheet for you to put 15 families from your past in order. Take one of those families and learn about them. I'd love to hear what you learn about them and yourself!

(One note. If you are adopted you have a legacy of love that's as important to look into as your biological ancestry. You can get information about your biological heritage pretty easily these days. Both families will have insights into who you are and why people make the choices they make. Let me know if I can help. I have some very intelligent resources!)


  1. Printing this out for my mom; she's going to love it!

  2. Fun Sandi. She must have messy sock drawers, too!

  3. Betsy, aloha. What a brilliant analogy; I absolutely loved it and can see the perfect fit.

    No surprise to me that you would run into someone at church who could "spark" you on family history because even though you may be feeling "lost" your desire to learn more is an ever-emitting beacon.

    People most definitely are the sum of their stories. Well done, Betsy. Until next time, aloha. Janet

  4. Janet,
    Thank you! You made me smile!

  5. Neither Pat, my new friend, nor I had planned on being in the church building that morning.


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