Monday, May 25, 2009

Family myth

Myths are rampant in every family history and it takes intentional sleuthing to determine what is truth and what is mostly fiction. I repeat ‘mostly fiction’ for you will find at least one thread of truth in the story that has been passed down to the present generation.

New and seasoned genealogists are easily captivated and then distracted into finding a factual link that connects a famous person with a more recent ancestor. Most often time and resources spent pursuing this elusive link are wasted.

Let me suggest a wiser use of your time. Always work from the ‘known to the unknown’. In the world of family history -‘known’ means documented data. It is not necessarily what ‘great aunt Harriet’ has told you.

We may think we know what the name of a parent or grandparent or other close relative is. Surprisingly, we sometimes find that the legal name given at birth or adoption will be similar but different. A birth date may have been celebrated someone’s entire life only to find out, when documentation is obtained, that the date is incorrect. Birth and marriage dates may have been changed on purpose for a variety of reasons.

Perpetuating some myths of the family may seem the kind thing to do, but truth can heal when combined with love, understanding and acceptance. Every family has information that has been locked away. Truth doesn’t have to be headline news in the next family gathering. It can be shared with gentle compassion. This will have multiple benefits in the family. How we speak of those not present teach our children and grandchildren they are safe as they make mistakes and are loved and lifted by family.

Be the one who generates truth as you record the story of your family with a kind and generous heart.

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