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Genealogy at the Club

"I used to go out to parties and stand around
'Cause I was too nervous to really get down
But my body yearned to be free
I got up on the floor, boy
so somebody could choose me."

"Got To Give It Up," Marvin Gaye

Genealogy is not just census records and birth and death certificates and marriage records, sometimes it's a glass of wine, dim lights and Marvin Gaye.

Sometimes it's not about the "I' do's," it's the "What we did on our honeymoon, Girl!" that writes the first page of a lot of family histories. In other words, if you want to know the whole story, you should search for more than the birds and the bees, you should investigate what honey and flowers brought them to the garden. That combination could explain why your ancestor was either great grandpa's delight or his wide-eyed fright. It could clarify why your granddaddy was welcomed into the family with a strong handshake or a loaded shotgun. Serious genealogists realize that while visualizing family history is always pretty, doing it usually gets pretty real. In some cases, corsages, dance moves and tasty libations may have made the difference between a couple being prom king and queen or remembered for doing the "wild thing."

Whether we want to admit it or not, raw genealogy is sexy! Think of your own story. I mean really think about it...got it? Now think far back. It doesn't matter how far back you trace or to which century. Think of the many stories in the Old Testament. If you didn't know it was the Bible you had been reading, tell me you wouldn't have thought you had just been panting over the newest novel by this generation's Jaqueline Suzanne. Is any modern novel full of more tales of passion, lust, violent conquests and rejections than those told about Adam and Eve and their descendants?

Be bold! Flesh out your genealogical treatise with blood and guts. Yes, the feel good emotional stories we see and embrace on "Who Do You Think You Are?" are touching and inspiring, but think about your own life. Has every event in your narrative been a made for prime time TV movie or have you experienced several episodes out of a "Housewives of a Rich City" series? Recall your ancestors' lives just as vigorously as you have lived yours. Don't let your research be boring. Don't think your story doesn't compare. Discovering your family history is exciting.

Genealogy is Marvin Gaye singing, "Let's Get it On!"

Chris Haley - 4/27/2012 10:55 PM

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