This was very special Thanksgiving. My husband and I spent the holiday with my cousin Tim at his home in Sunderland, Massachusetts with his wife Susan, his children and several other cousins. Until recently, we barely knew of each other. Over the years I heard his name mentioned on occasion and I knew who he was. However, I would never have recognized him, if we met face to face.
This was not always the case. My father and Tim’s mother were brother and sister. Tim and I grew up in the same neighborhood in Amherst, Massachusetts. Our mother’s were friends and my father remained close to his sister. The families spent a good deal of time together.
However, my family moved when I was thirteen years old and the visits between our families became infrequent. After Tim’s mother died, I have few memories of seeing him and his brothers.
The years passed quickly. I married and relocated to another area. He married and we both raised our families, oblivious of each other for many years.We came together again by way of a query one of us had placed on a genealogy board and since then, we have renewed our cousin relationship.
I realized in a profound way on Thanksgiving day, as we looked at old family photos, shared our memories and the events that shaped our lives, that by the mere coincidence of having been born to siblings, we had a huge reservoir of information about each others lives. We remembered the same things in the same way. We heard the same stories and he recounted incidents in my life, that were all but forgotten by me. Quite amazing!
I came to the realization, that we have both looked to the distant past to find our family history and I recognized in a profound way, as we sipped wine and shared stories that only family knew and cared about, that history is not made in the past. History is made in the present.
Even though most of us, think of our lives as ordinary, we all have compelling life stories which should be documented and preserved for subsequent generations. Writing about ourselves can be another generations window to the past. More importantly, telling our story in our way and in our words void of another opinions is a way of keeping it real and honest.
Finding time for such tasks is not easy. I have committed to writing a detailed account of each holiday beginning with this Thanksgiving. You may not think so, but you have a story to tell, too. When it comes to family history, we are all super stars.