Monday, February 12, 2007

In A Nutshell
XIX

In a Nutshell

A place set aside to answer 201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter. This may take awhile...join us if you like.


19. The country my ancestors came from was. Great Britain. All of them that I know about. My father's father was born in England, and his mother descended from British immigrants. There may have been someone from some other European country in there, but we don't know about it. Of course, we didn't have much contact with that side of the family after my father's death, and so don't know very much. Julie did a family history five years ago, and she wasn't able to trace the Cooks back more than to my grandmother.

Now, on the other side of the family -- we go waaaay back. Colonial descendants, with England to the 1500s. My mother's maternal line came over to Massachusetts 30 years after the Mayflower. My mother's paternal line came to Virginia in the very early days of the colony as well.

The thing about being a Colonial descendant, is that we don't think we belong to an ethnic group. We think we are the norm and others (Italians, Scots, French, African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Norwegian -- you know, others!) belong to ethnic groups. I always thought that the way my family did things was, if good, the normal way that everybody does it or, if bad, the stupid way that only my family does it. Imagine my surprise when I took a course on the effects of ethnicity on therapy and discovered that the contents of those two lists are my ethnic inheritance! When we studied my group, it was as if someone had been following my family and me around with a notebook! It was all there. The stiff upper lip while your heart is breaking. The stoic continuing to just do it while you are in pain. The distancing from vulnerability of saying that "One does" instead of "I do". The pride in being able to laugh at yourself. The importance of hard work. The emphasis on independence and autonomy. The importance of loyalty to family and friends. A mishmash of good and stupid -- and all of it my ethnic identity. How absolutely amazing.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

I love the idea of "201 autobiographical questions
from a mother for her daughter" - where is the full list of questions? I'm so anxious to try this in my own blog, if that's OK.