Yesterday, after church, Craig and I sat at the kitchen table and fell into the Rabbit hole that is the Family Tree app. We try to make Sundays different around our house, so after church we have a slower more peaceful day, and it gives everyone a chance to recharge before Monday. Yesterday, he showed me the app while we were eating lunch and we ended up both scrolling through our family trees for a couple hours. It was so fascinating! There’s a really big emphasis in our religion on families and family history. I don’t mind, I love history and always have. I mean, you don’t go and buy a 230 year old house (and everything that comes with it) if you don’t love history. Living on the East Coast has only fanned the flame on my love for history, where everywhere I turn there are charming little historic villages.
Anyway, scrolling through my family tree yesterday afternoon was a really cool experience, so today I thought I would deviate a little from the norm and give you 4 reasons why you should learn about your family history.
1-It’s fun and interesting. I don’t know exactly why it’s so fun and interesting to learn about where you came from, but I swear it is. And you’ll be surprised who you find out your related too. For example, yesterday, I discovered that I am like the 8th great-granddaughter of George Ross, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. (I always knew I was patriotic for a reason!;-) It also turns out that his line goes back to a bunch of Kings in Scotland and Ireland and I was able to follow that line all the way back to before Christ’s time. (130 BC) It literally blew my mind. I told my kids, and of course they all got a kick out of it. Craig told the boys they probably need to start wearing kilts. You never know who you’ll find out your related to. It’s fascinating.
2- It gives you perspective. Seeing all the people that came before you, that had some hand in where your life ended up makes you feel simultaneously small and also important. Like you’re part of a bigger story, connected to hundreds of people who have come before you. It helps you feel your place in it all, and makes you feel good about yourself. Look at all these great people who came before you! They’re all part of you in some small way.
3- It fills you with gratitude. So many of the names on Family tree have pictures as well and seeing the faces of my ancestors, reading about where they were born, where they lived, stories and histories about them, filled me with a great deal of gratitude. I wouldn’t have the life I have now, if each of them hadn’t done what they did first.
4- It makes you want to be a better person. I don’t know why, but seeing your place in a long line of people, makes you want to be a better person. It makes you want to try a little harder to be a little better. It made me think a lot about what kind of legacy I’m going to leave and it made me want to do everything I can to leave a good one. It also made me want to do more with my life. Experience more, travel more, love more, help more, and just live a little braver.
There are are several different website where you can learn about your family history. The top 4 I’ve found around the internet are Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Findmypast, and Myheritage. I think they are all amazing sites and they all get really good reviews, so anyone of them would be a great place to start. Family Search is the only one that’s free (it’s actually run by my church, just to be totally transparent) but you don’t have to be LDS (Mormon) to use it. Anyone can sign up for a free account and learn about/work on their family tree. Anyway. I’m just learning how to use it so if you have any questions, feel free to ask and I’ll have my husband help me answer it, cause he’s way more tech savvy than me. Lol. ;-)
Have you ever looked at your family history/family tree? What have you learned?