This time of the year, Samhain, is when I honour all my ancestors. I often think of them though when researching my family history. It is not just my actual ancestors but all those relatives too. They are all part of my family tree.
I like to look at how they lived and what they did and wonder how much of what they did is a part of who I am. I can see what I have learned from my parents and grandparents and also what I chose to keep from that and what I chose to let go. Life is easy today compared to when they were younger. There was often not much money around and so little food and no money for pleasure like we have today.
The most poignant things I see in my research are on the 1911 census where there is a question asking how many children were born to the family and how many died. This week I found one family where fifteen children had been born but nine had died. If a child dies today there are lots of people around to help deal with the loss but then there was nothing and to lose nine children was a great loss. How did they cope? As far as I can see they just got on with it and carried on having other children to replace those who had died.
But having done several DNA tests I know I have other ancestors who don’t go on the family tree. They lived 15,000 years ago but they are still in my DNA. Some were hunters and gatherers and that must have been a hard life too. How much of this ability to deal with hard times is in my genes? My life hasn’t been easy but I have coped and I think this is due to what I have inherited from all of my ancestors through out the thousands of years. I honour them all.