Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Tree Firmly Planted

“How will our children know who they are
if they don’t know where they came from?”
_John Steinbeck

I visited a few blogs recently that got me thinking more 'aboot ma roots'. Cultural Heritage and History have always been interesting topics for me. Due to my father's prolonged illness when I was young, I tended to be left with my respective sets of grandparents who thankfully wished me to have knowledge of 'where I came from'. However, I find it quite amusing that both sets seemed at odds with each other and where we all were living. The oddities of human nature, sometimes! (Amusing now after pondering it all, but not really all that amusing at the time) Perhaps some of you can relate?

Overall, I believe their intentions were good, ...however, conflicting it was at times!! Over the years, I've sifted and sorted their information, to create who I am today, however 'zany'!! ;)
To try to explain briefly, my American Southern grands wanted me to know my Southern Presbyterian Scots/Ulster Scots heritage, and fighting for the Confederacy and the Amer. Revolution, and that I was a Southern lady not a Yankee (we lived in Pennsylvania), while my grands from the UK (Sco/Eng, RomCath/Ang) via Argentina didn't want me too American, and were quietly miffed that I was not being raised Catholic or at least Angelican (They had to leave Argentina due to Peron, and were only in America for economic reasons, and were loyal to Queen and the Union). There weren't too many open fechts (fights) but sometimes you could feel an undercurrent. I suppose when people feel strongly about things, it's not always easy to be at peace with the 'opposing side'....but I'm still convinced, however naively, that Love does conquer all things! :)

So, with all that said, knowing your heritage is important, it really does help mold our character, though it doesn't completely make us who we are. We can be encouraged by the perseverance and courage of our forebears, as well as learn from their mistakes. In all this, I am still a Christian, though not big on religion nor doctrine. My children will know both mine and my husband's heritage and of our faith. However, I will not force anything on them; I will leave it to my children to decide what they will take on as part of their own identity as adults! Hopefully, we will impart a foundation to them, so that they can be firm of faith and character to bravely go out into this world. Do any readers passing through here have stories or opinions you wish to share on this? I'd love to hear them, maybe to know that I'm not alone in the madness!! ;))


ciara said...

my dad's from alabama w scot/welsh's from the philippines w spanish/french ancestors. dad was raised baptist, mom-catholic. i was baptized catholic, but as a youth tried a cpl different churches. as i got older, i found they weren't for me. this is how i describe myself to ppl...a liberal agnostic existentialist w atheist leanings. now say that 5x fast lol i was still favoring catholicism when i had my 1st child almost 21 yrs ago, but i knew i was not going to have him baptized. and i haven't baptized the girls either. i want them to decide on their own if they want religion in their life and to pick one that they want...not one that's been forced upon em. i do want them to know their heritage...i would love to have this book my dad's side of the family made w our family roots. my mom said it's missing, but i hope not. i would love to research my mom's side, but i wonder how much of the records i can get considering that all birth, wedding records, etc were kept in the church and was washed away along w the church from a typhoon. where my mom is from, they didn't get electricity til the early 90's...i'm sure they've got up somewhat now tho.

they are planning to go back here soon, so if they do, i may just have to plan a trip :)

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Ciara,
I remember you mentioning your parents traveling back (how's your dad feeling?)
Well, I'm glad you commented so at least I know I'm not alone in the madness!!! ;) I think I'll withhold from saying '...that 5x fast' or I'll pass out from lack of oxygen!!! :D From what I've read on your blog, I think you have too kind of a heart to be an atheist!!!
I honestly believe, regardless of what religion does to tweak us, God is written on our hearts, and it's up to us to listen!!!! :)))

I hope you make it back there, I think it is a neat thing to see the land of your forebears. I know one phrase in Tagalog,...forgive the phonetics!! "Mahal ki-ta" :))


ciara said...

not too shabby w the tagalog phrase 'mahal kita' it's about the only phrase i know, too, w the exception of bad words haha mom was new to the country and knew no one, so that is why she rarely spoke the language to us. my bro lost it at ages 5 and 3 :(

ummm p.s. you haven't seen me when i'm angry, you wouldn't like me when i'm angry (isn't that what the hulk says?) lol

His Girl Friday said...

ha,ha, ha!!! the incredible hulk!! ..but surely you don't turn green as well??!! :)

storyteller said...

My mom was 100% first generation American born Dutch. Her parents came straight from Holland (separate locales however -- he from Friesland and she from Groningen) and met in Michigan where they raised their family. My dad was an American farm kid with a Heinz-57 heritage. My high cheekbones and straight hair attest to the Indian blood mixed in his genes, though my eyes are as blue as his.

Mom & Dad met in Southern California and raised us here. Both extended families lived nearby when I was a child, and we had HUGE gatherings ... though I don't recall ever having both sides of the family in the same place at the same time. Mom was the youngest of 5 siblings and everyone else married "Dutch" ... and in retrospect, I suspect dad's family was a bit overwhelming (and perhaps beneath them somehow)?

Indoor gatherings were the mainstay of mom's side of the family while dad's relatives tended to have potlucks in parks. Of course HIS family was much bigger since he was 2nd youngest in a family with 13 siblings many of whom had children who had kids older than me.

We were raised Dutch Reformed until I was 12 when my parents "looked around" for a church closer to home (visiting a wide variety with us in tow over about a year's time), eventually settling on a Methodist Church I attended until I moved out of the area.

I don't have many details other than names in family Bibles passed down when my folks died, but I have good memories. All of my mom's family has long since passed away ... though I'm in contact with a few scattered cousins. My dad's siblings have all died too and their kids have scattered to the winds, I know not where.

My ex and I had no kids. Seems strange to think my brother is gone ... so it's just me and my sister now (plus her husband, my brother's widow, the nieces & nephews and their kids, none of whom live close by).

As I started to press Publish, I had the following thought. My sister's youngest son (who danced in a recent revival of "Flower Drum Song on Broadway" at the age of 21 a few years back) traveled with the cast of "Thoroughly Modern Mille" (a play I've seen many times) and the line "It's sad to be alone is the world" (spoken in broken English repeatedly throughout by the nefarious Hotel Owner) comes strangely to mind here ... but I'm chuckling as I type this because even though I've lost track of many relatives, I'm anything but alone in the world. Life is good if not exactly what I'd expected.

Mrs Successful said...

Thanks for visiting my site HGF and for your Scottish 'dialect' comments! I knew there had to be a Scottish connection. I enjoyed reading your views (and everyone elses).

His Girl Friday said...

Hi Mrs S,
I love the Scottish words, they seem so much more lively and descriptive!! Growing up, there was a wonderful 'mother' figure in my life (my friend's mum). She was from Stornoway, Lewis. I'm grateful for the wisdom and the nurturing she imparted, so perhaps that, and with my heritage/family, I have a soft spot for 'things' Scottish. :)