Connect To The Youth In Your Family By Connecting Them To Their Family History

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Disneyland and Intergenerational Transmission

We've just returned from a family history trip of sorts.  My parents and all of their descendants took off last week for a great trip together to celebrate their return from being abroad for the last 2.5 years.  It was a trick to get everyone's schedules aligned, but we did it--everyone got to come.  And the destination of course was Southern California where my mother grew up and where my Grandparents lived for most of their lives.  Mom and Dad you just finished your commitments away from our family..What are you going to do next?  We're going to Disneyland! 

Me and my little sister with Grandma
and Grandpa on Main Street
Disneyland runs deep in my family like I'm sure it does in many other families.  Once or twice a year when we went to visit my Maternal Grandparents, we always had to make the trip to Disneyland.  My Grandmother had Multiple Sclerosis and was in a wheelchair from the time I--the oldest grandaughter--started walking.  So for 30 years my parents visited as often as they could and supported and helped my grandparents as much as they could.  I'm not sure if it was gratitude for my parent's help, or if it was sheer grandfatherhood that made Grandpa take us to Disneyland every time we visited.  But we sure had fun. And as hard as I'm sure it must have been for them, they always came along.  I have such great memories of them there and now it seems like they are there with us.

Not with Uncle Ken,
but Dad and Jenn this time.
So we have long standing traditions at Disneyland.  The teacups has been my favorite forever because my Uncle Ken would take us and spin us so fast we couldn't hold our heads up at all.  (The pink one without the hearts is fastest--in case you didn't know.)  And it wasn't till I was quite a bit older that I figured out what a sordid tale the actual topic of the Pirates of the Caribbean was because growing up I just knew it was my Grandpa's favorite ride.  He would put his arm around me and sing "Yo Ho Yo Ho A Pirate's Life for Me."  Last week, with all of my parent's descendants together in the same boat we sang at the top of our lungs and it felt like Grandpa was there.

But get this:  One of our family's Disneyland traditions actually almost missed me.  Apparently, my sisters all buy churros when they come out of the Haunted House because Grandpa used to always buy them for us while he was waiting with Grandma while we went on the ride.  I do remember that--now that they mention it.  But I didn't have that memory as clearly as they did.  So--thanks to my sisters, I have a fun new tradition to honor my Grandfather with. 

Mom photobombing the teenagers--the next generation.
It made me think about what gets transmitted down and what doesn't.  I'm sure there are lots of families with traditions and folklore about Disneyland.  When I was little, they didn't allow food inside the park, but now they do and I suspect it is because there are families like ours that are going to pay $3.75 per churro or eat dinner at the Blue Bayou restaurant no matter what.  Transmitting those traditions are precious--no matter what the cost and it feels so good to be connected to the past and connected to your family.  Good memories are precious, precious things.

So this year we had the youngest (yet) grandchild graduate to where she could drive on the Autopia and she took Grandma for a ride.  I totally remember how cool that was!  And we had to get my sister who is pregnant and having trouble with her sciatic nerve a wheelchair--and though that wasn't fun, it was a real joy to push her around.  We didn't have any trouble finding someone to push her and I'm glad she didn't get a motorized wheelchair.  It was like having Grandma with us there again.  It also got us a great place to view the World of Color--just like we were always happy  to have handicapped parking in front of that old massive parking lot because of Grandma's wheelchair. 

At the beginning of the line at the Tower of Terror
And just for the record, my Mom's favorite ride is the Tower of Terror--not only because she loves roller coasters, but because it reminds her of the hotels in So Cal that her Grandmother used to take her to when she was a little girl.  So next time we visit, I'll remind everyone while we are waiting in line about that part of our family history.  And in line for Soaring over California, I'll keep reminding everyone about how my Grandfather was part of the beginnings of aviation in So Cal after World War II.  

I so love this family.  And I hope we can keep transmitting that down the generations most of all.  I think we were closer on this trip and the experience was deep and rich because of our shared history there. 

Here's our newest vacation tradition--movies made from an app on my sister's iPhone.  Now life comes with a soundtrack :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ca Ching

We've been running around like crazy around here with lots of things I promise to blog about this week.  But I had to share with you my happy dance for today.

My 15 year old son is speaking next week at RootsTech and today he had to write an unrelated paper for school today on "Why Family History Is Important" (In relation to the book The Giver.)  He said I could post it for you here.  We've worked and worked together on his RootsTech talk.  But he wrote this all by himself.  Take a look:

Why Family History is Important

I believe family history is important because it helps us understand where we came from and be confident because we can see what our ancestors did. My family runs a company that prints genealogy charts, so I am very I am very involved with family history, this year I am even going to teach a class about how youth can get started using online genealogy research sites at Rootstech, which is a huge conference hosted by FamilySearch.

My great great grandfather, John Hatten Carpenter, spent most of his life sending letters back and forth with people in England so he could do temple work for them (he was the first member of his family to join the LDS church.) He was able to complete his family history back to the 1200s. He was also the first one to move to America, which I thought was cool to learn about. When we went to England last year we went to see the farm he grew up on, and we also got to see lots of cool old documents, like old lamps and I got to hold an old will that was older than the Declaration of Independence, which was written on really thin leather. It was interesting to learn how they thinned the hide, there were dime sized holes in the leather, which it turns out were from mosquito bites before the leather was stretched.

Another reason family history is fun is because it can help you to understand the traditions you have today and why your family is the way it is. My grandpa went on his mission to Switzerland and we still do lots of stuff he learned when he was over there.

But the main reason I like to learn about my family history is that if you look enough you can find lots of really interesting stories. My grandpa has an old Edison amberola which he got from his grandpa. It is really interesting to see all the cool and old stuff they had back then, and how cool the stuff we have now is.

Learning about my family history has been a big part of my life and I am glad that I am able to access it so easily. I think other people should start to work on their genealogy if they haven’t already, because it is really worth it.
The End

I gave up long ago on having a "genealogist" for a child.  But I knew the importance of them knowing about their family history so I kept at it.  And look---it is starting to pay off!!  Happy Dancing Day.