Wednesday, May 18, 2011

DNA? Really?

My two youngest boys. "Pete"  and "Repeat!" aka Kenny and James
I walked into the library full of anticipation. I had my family history file box under one arm and a bag of books to return hanging from the other.

Immediately I saw some familiar faces. And then my stomach dropped. I knew we were having a repeat presentation on DNA/Genealogy because I recognized the instructor.

I was supposed to be at home taking my 10 minute nap, waiting for the last 4 children to be delivered from school. But I was at the monthly genealogy meeting instead, hoping that I'd learn something that would feed my passion. Something that was worth sleep deprivation.

So, I sat and politely smiled and studied maps and images and charts. I could barely keep my eyes open. It was too awkward to leave, so I started daydreaming about dinner. If you know me, you'd know that I'm bored if I start menu-planning.

But, life is too precious to me to waste any of it. I am very curious and open to new things. I just couldn't find the excitement for learning about DNA connections to my relatives and ancestors. Maybe I'm a romantic, but if you've married into or been born or adopted into my family, we're related. I don't need a test to tell me that. All I need is documentation to prove that we're connected.

There was a couple who'd had their DNA testing done through a few organizations. They'd spent quite a bit of money and actually found a living relative who shared the same DNA markers. The instructor learned that his family three generations back had changed their last name when coming to the United States. He was thrilled to be able to be able to continue one family line that had been a mystery for years. They had an animated conversation and the energy in the room was palpable. Everyone had questions. I just wanted to know what time it was.

But they were happy. For them family history meant working your family tree back as far as possible, even if it's just one line. Aren't we all a bit more curious to find an ancestor that lived a thousand years ago than the name of a great uncle who you met once but didn't really like anyways? It feels like such a badge of distinction. And that feeling is addictive!

So, I get it. But I don't have to like it.

Honestly, it's a distraction for me to look so far back into the past when I have so many people closer to the present that I want to put in order and to learn from.

I'm looking for those of you who want to start your family history research, and are completely overwhelmed. My passion is working with beginners and finding and documenting ONLY the four generations that lived before you. That would include your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and great great grandparents AND all of their spouses and children.

Why just them? Because the skills that you will master putting those generations in order can be added to as you need them for special cases, but if unlearned will only make genealogy frustrating for you.

Start today! Do one thing. Download the worksheet and get it printed. Then start filling it in!
Pedigree/Family Group Worksheet/ Free 18x24" Download

As for me, I'll wait a while to see where DNA fits in. The jury's out for now.

Betsy Cross

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