Thank you to Peg for sharing her experience and giving us concrete information about directions we can take to start a family tree or story. Inspiring ideas and concrete decisions to be made. Sharing like this is an excellent way to motivate and to teach others!
It’s true that the DNA aspect of genealogy can be limited in some ways. As children of immigrants, we may know the names of and have even met our relatives, as I have, and so I was not completely surprised that my DNA test showed me as 99% Lithuanian. And although the services provided through sites such as Ancestry can reveal relatives we did not previously know, there is also the possibility of being queried by people who have no connection to our relatives. I was recently questioned by someone who thinks we are related, but none of the names, places or dates match at all.
What does knowing my ethnicity give me? Proof – possibly, but there are currently all kinds of doubts being cast upon the testing and its accuracy. (By the way, no one in our generation – dragged to Saturday school and folk-dancing, forbidden from dating “others” and scolded for not speaking Lithuanian – truly had much doubt as to our ethnic background.) Possibly more useful is the analysis showing predisposition to certain diseases, but there again, it may be solid evidence only in some cases, and how useful is it in reality? How can you prepare? Fodder for dinner conversations – do we want to know, or not, and how much?
I think Peg is right that collecting material for the family story is most important: this is what we would like to preserve for the next generation, to find and mark our place in history, in a sense. Every family has a story. And displaced families especially need some sort of anchor in a mixed society here in North America. So, back to the box. It does now have files named according to family branches. As soon as I declutter the sewing paraphernalia that’s currently on my office futon, I will bring it out and aim for chronology. And inspired by Peg, I will begin to compile my family history. I must remember – it does not have to be a Pulitzer Prize contender. My notes and my thoughts in my own handwriting will be more revealing as to who I am.
Logic dictates that I begin my story with my parents’ arrival in Canada, as it is easier than trying to go backward from there, for now. A future visit to Lithuania and the tiny cemetery that my grandparents are buried in by the old homestead, while it is still standing, is in my plan for Part Two.
I invite you to tell your story, or the story of your efforts, here and now, for others to read and be inspired. Give us even just a few comments to egg us on…