Climbing up the family tree

giant-tree
Image courtesy of http://www.adityaenc.com

For the first 33 years of my life, the concept of family didn’t hold much weight. I’m reasonably close to my immediate family; mother, father, and two sisters, and sort of close to the grandparents that are still alive. But my overall feeling toward family is far removed from the “blood is more important than anything” narrative put forth in countless movies and television shows. Let’s just say, if I was Jax Teller in Sons of Anarchy, I would have jumped on my bike, and left SAMCRO and Charming midway through Season 1. Loyalty shmoyalty.

My apathy towards family is easily explained. I was brought up in a relative small family, with aunties, uncles, cousins living far enough away that visits were once, maybe twice a year. Part of this apathy also stems from being a white Australian. I’m proud to be Australian but as far as ancestry goes, Australia isn’t home. I don’t have history here. There’s barely anything that connects me to the country, and even less that connects me to the city I’ve grown up in, as much as I love it.

The underlying factor to all of this is that I have no idea where I come from. Where are my ancestors from? What did they believe in? What did they fight for?

genealogy cartoon

Does it matter? What is it about family that rules above all else for so many people? Do they feel an extra connection, or do they simply think they have to act that way because society expects them to? Does understanding your roots, your history, and who your ancestors are, change anything?

Before I answer those questions above, I’ll do a bit of a search. Not a life-changing, job-quitting, soul-searching, 100% devotion to traveling the globe in search of my bloodline, search. But a lazier, mouse-clicking, online-scouring search of where my roots may lie. Based on my surname, the best guess at this point is Scotland but maybe I can narrow it down to a town or city.

I’ll keep you updated as to how far I get. Then maybe, just maybe, I can start to work out what this family business is all about.

11 thoughts on “Climbing up the family tree

  1. I’m like you in the sense that I’m pretty close with my immediate family, but that’s it. And even then, I’m not spilling my deepest secrets to them….we’re not /that/ close! But all my cousins live far away like yours and I rarely see them, so I have a very weak relationship with them, which is odd because I know people whose cousins are their best friends and they see each other all the time.
    I’m not too lost on family history and I have no urges to look into it further. Family is nice and all and I love mine on most days, but I didn’t grow up valuing it above all. I don’t know how old you are, but perhaps when I have a family of my own, things change, and the fact that I’d basically pick and literally make my own family would allow me to value it a lot more.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m starting to wonder if my impression of strong family values isn’t as prevalent in society as I thought! At least not on my blog comments anyway lol… but as I replied to someone else, I’m not expecting anything to change if I do search and find some stuff out – I also remarked to my fiancee last night that if the search becomes too difficult or time-consuming I’m likely to drop it pretty quickly – I think that’s a pretty good sign about how I feel. It’s been an interesting exercise writing about just for these comments if nothing else. P.s. I’m almost 34

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  2. I am not really that close to family, I’ll even include my missus and kids in that. At least it doesn’t feel close. That doesn’t mean I don’t care. I still don’t sleep well/at all if one of the kids is out past midnight (I say kids but we are talking late teens and early 20s here), I still try and do what I think is my best for them only they don’t always see me trying my best as me trying my best for them, If they were asked what they thought of me and the technology existed that meant they had to tell the truth I am not sure if the answers would be complimentary.

    But it has given me the idea for the next post over on my personal blog.

    Personally though, to jump in and answer your questions (for me), I don’t think ancestry matters one iota in terms of family, I would jump into an uncomfortable situation to try and save any of them though (be that a fight, a burning building or whatever) but would not do so blindly in a mad man, frothing at the mouth and spraying spittle everywhere kinda way.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this post, Mike! It’s honestly really refreshing to have someone express similar feelings to mine about family. Like you, it’s not that I don’t like my family or anything. It’s just, they’re not really there, or at least, not in any meaningful way. I grew up an only child, and my mom is now deceased, so there’s really not much left. All my aunts and uncles and cousins are people I only see at Christmas — if that often.

    My fiance, on the other hand — he’s definitely the sort who typifies the whole blood is thicker than water thing. When he and I first met, I recall being visibly shocked when he informed me that he regularly *talks to* or *visits* cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. To be honest I’m rather jealous of that familial connection.

    Anyway, regarding the whole genealogy investigation, I say go for it! Regardless of the closeness to any living family, knowing one’s lineage is pretty cool. I was happy when my dad’s brother did all the research for us and found out we’re all Welsh and English.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Charlotte! It has been refreshing to read how many people feel similar! I always thought I was in the vast minority when it came to family but I’m starting to think there’s more of us out there. I know a few people who have a strong bond with extended family, and I can be a little jealous, but I also see people who are in constant contact with extended family and absolutely hate it, but feel obliged to continue with dysfunctional relationships simply because ‘it’s family’… I’m pretty sure my roots are somewhere in Scotland so I’ll see what I can dig up in the next few months.

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  4. I grew up very close to immediate family, my Dad’s entire family, and my Mom’s one brother and his (first) wife – they were my godparents – but eventually the closeness to Mom’s side of the family eroded. However, my brother and I are still very close and the closeness to Dad’s side has remained strong. Dad’s younger brother is the only one of the four siblings still alive. Three of my six first cousins passed away as well; but those of us who remain are all close even though we haven’t been together since 2007. And Uncle Robert and Aunt Audrey are our patriarch and matriarch. They are the ones we look to for the wisdom only their generation can provide. Though at times we have to take it with a grain of salt given the effects aging has had on their memories. 😉 We all remain in touch via phone calls and emails.

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