“Kiss me, I’m Irish!” I don’t know how many years I wore that silly pin on St. Patrick’s Day. It was only a couple years ago that I discovered that I was Irish…well, a little bit Irish. I might not go claiming the free kisses, but my family history hobby has been one of the best things to happen to me as a mom. It has connected me to some amazing stories, given me encouragement, and helped my family see ourselves as part of the bigger picture. It has also provided some unique activities for holidays and some mighty tasty eats. This St. Patrick’s Day, take a look and see if you are a rightful heir to all the blarney of the holiday! Maybe you have ancestors that fled during the French Revolution, the Irish Potato famine, or English religious persecution. Maybe there is royalty in your blood. Maybe you had folks on the Mayflower! Maybe not, but you definitely have people who made it possible for you to be alive today, and I promise they have some pretty amazing stories.
Start by gathering information you know, like the names and birthdays of your parents and grandparents. Contact your oldest relative and ask them questions about their grandparents and great-grandparents. Where were they born? Where did they live? What town were they married in? Do they have any stories they could share? Find all the information you can about a deceased person. Then, visit one of the many genealogy sites online. Familysearch.org is a great place to start, and all the information is free. They have online tutorials to help you get started and millions of immigration, military, census, and other records that can help you climb your family tree. Ancestry.com is another popular site with a free trial period. There are dozens of other sites catering to the Family History craze that can help in your quest.
When you connect to your roots, you give your child the gift of belonging: Belonging to your family, belonging to history, and belonging to other cultures and lands. As our families fragment more and more, this is a gift that can center us, inspire us, and maybe even give us something to dance about on St. Patrick’s Day.