Sunday, February 7, 2010

Unanswered Questions


Today I find myself bored. When boredom sets in I usually end up thinking about "things". It can be "any-thing" or "nothing" that I end up thinking about. As this thinking continues questions inevitably arise. Occasionally these questions cause me to get upset about some event or someone's insensitivity. These thinking day have also been known to cause insecurities to flair up. Today happens to be a day where that isn't so much the case. Instead I have some unanswered questions that I have been pondering and have been unable to find the answers to some of them.

For some reason this past year I started thinking about my family's roots. I think part of it may have to do with the job I have right now. I work with people who are first generation immigrants. They have these beautiful and rich traditions that they have brought with them. I get to hear stories of how they celebrate holidays and momentous occasions in ways that I have never heard of before, and, to be honest, I get a bit jealous.

Another reason I have been thinking of my ancestry may have to do with the fact that I am seeing my Grandparents get older and realizing that they are not immortal as I once believed. They are my best connection to the past. I want to learn as much as I can from them before it is too late. Seeing the people I work with and their traditions makes me realize that I have no idea what traditions my ancestors used to have. They have gotten lost somewhere along the way. This makes me feel like I have no connection to my ethnic heritage.

I know that on my Mom's side of the family both of my Grandparents are German. As for my Dad's side of the family, I know my Grandmother is Norwegian, but I have no idea what my Grandfather's heritage is. There had been talk of English or Norwegian, but there is no definitive answer. There are unanswered questions about his background due to the fact that his mother was very secretive and didn't really tell anyone much about her past before she died. For him, there are no real records to pull from to find out.

I would like to be able to embrace my roots and have started to this past Christmas. I was talking to my Grandmother on my Mom's side and asked what some of the German traditions are around the time of the holidays. She told me about a couple of traditions. The one that I have fallen in love with has to do with a gift that is given to new brides. They are given a box of ornaments to put on the Christmas tree. They are beautiful glass blown ornaments and each one has a different meaning like "prosperity" or "health". For Christmas I got a book from my Grandmother that has all of the German ornaments listed out and what each one means. She also took the time to write down on a note card each one of the ornaments that comes in the traditional box that is given to brides.

It makes me sad to think that I know nothing of the Norwegian traditions and obviously nothing of my Grandfather's background. I have made a pact with myself to work on finding out about these things this year. Then hopefully, someday I will be able to travel to all of the countries that my ancestors came from. I would like to be able to see and experience "the homeland". I want to get a sense of what life was like for them. I know that these countries have obviously changed drastically since they lived there and I will never completely know what it was like for them. But it would still be nice to try to make that connection. It will happen, I am sure of it.