Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When Family Trees Don't Exactly Fork...

These days everyone’s family tree is a little confusing due to the increase in divorce, remarriages, and cohabitation. I wouldn’t want to be a genealogist in one hundred years or so trying to decipher family lines. Activities and projects which revolve around the family unit can mean a teacher is treading into dangerous waters.

A few years ago I thought it would be a really great activity to have a group of language arts students interview family members and obtain the recipes for special dishes that family members always want to have at family gatherings. You know, Aunt Mary’s Creamed Corn, Uncle Jim Bob’s spare rib sauce and so on. We were going to take the two or three recipes from each class member and students were going to write out the recipes and illustrate the pages. All of the pages were going to be bound into one booklet, mass produced, and shared with the entire class.

Sounds like an interesting activity right? Our first experience with history is learning our own family history. I was trying to jump start that a bit and get some conversations going at home.

I only had two kids to bring in recipes. Most never brought anything and I had five parents who wrote nasty notes wanting to know why I was prying into their families or informing me they don’t associate with family members.

Needless to say the subject of family can get a little touchy.

Southerners are always getting dumped on regarding our family trees. I’ll admit it…some family trees down here in the nether regions of the country are confusing.
Hell, some family trees don’t even fork.

I have a confession to make. My maternal tree does fork, however, that sucker is inundated with the thickest, largest kudzu vine you ever did see. (If you don’t know what kudzu is click HERE.)

Many days ago I began thinking about Mom’s family. I hopped into bed with pen and paper and began diagramming all of the connections.

Hubby groaned. “Oh no, you’re not going to write about that, are you?”

“Now, now,” I soothed. “It’s not like Granma and Granpa were actually related.”

“Wasn’t your grandmother your grandfather’s wife and aunt at the same time?” Hubby asked.

“Well,……yeah. Technically,” I answered.

“Wasn’t your mother’s father also her grand uncle?”

Gee, I was amazed Hubby remembered all of this. “Yeah,” I answered, but….”

Hubby continued as if he was the District Attorney grilling me on the stand, “Wasn’t your grandmother’s father-in-law also her brother-in-law?”

As my family pride began to sag a bit I said, “Yes, that’s all true, but you’re making it sound like we all have three heads, one eye in the middle of our foreheads, and we’re cross-eyed to boot.”

Hubby raised his hand to shush me, “Wait,” he said, “I’m on a roll.” He peered over at my diagram and examined it for a minute.

Finally he said, “Your great-grandfather was also your great grand uncle.” He lay back on the pillow smiling and all full of himself.

“Hmmmmmm….Is there such a thing?” I countered. “Is there a distinction of grand uncle? But yes, I guess if you want to go that far you could say that my great grandfather was also my great grand uncle.”

I was getting exasperated at this point as I said, “Look, what’s your point? It’s my family tree. I thought I would share this information to introduce the topic of overlapping presidential administrations for a post over at American Presidents.”

“Oh. Well….Never mind then. That might be an interesting way to approach it.”

And it just might be an interesting way to approach the subject, but first see if you can untangle my family’s kudzu vine. I’ve even posted my family connections in green to make it easier for you to see all the twists and turns.

These family connections, as suspect as they may be, are all true. We are not deformed, and no laws have been broken so how about it?

Give my puzzle a whirl…

What makes these family connections completely innocent?

Give up? Well, the answer can be found at the original article from 2006 titled A Conundrum For You.

Check out the comments at the end of the article for the exact answer.

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