If you are like me, that question can be a strange one to answer. Are you asking where I was born? Or maybe where I grew up? Perhaps where I live now?
Or are you asking about my heritage?
Some people are lucky enough to know exactly where they come from; like my husband, for instance. His family is from Ireland, and he is first generation American.
He knows for generations back where grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and second cousins and distant cousins are all “from”. And he also sort of takes it for granted.
I get a little bit jealous at times because if I say my family is from Ireland or Scotland, I have to explain that what I mean is, generations back they lived there. It somehow makes us “less Irish or Scottish”.
My sister, Janet had to dig through mounds of Internet archives to find out where my great, great grandparents lived. And she will have me on a wild goose chase once in Ireland, in two weeks, to track down a few Sayers graves.
I’m determined to find them, because in a strange way it “proves” we were there. She also traced our family back to Scotland and found out we were (are?) part of the Colquhoun Clan.
So of course I’m going to go see the Clan Castle in Luss. But will I feel a connection to them? A part of me feels like it’s a silly American thing to do; claim a connection to a clan from generations back.
But I still want to do it.
I think for so many of us American’s there is a sense of loss of connection to our heritage. Our ancestors came to this country generations ago and intermingled with other cultures and we became a big melting pot.
I believe we have a need to know where we come from. Sites like ancestry.com and 23 and Me not only give us a place to track down public records, but also a chance to have our DNA tested.
Even though my sister already did the work to trace our family history, I had my DNA tested too. I wanted assurance she was right. Funny.
There is a certainty when my husband and his family say they are of Irish decent. They may be Irish, but I’m not sure they know how lucky they are.
Are you lucky enough to know where you come from?