Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Big Facebook Dining Room Table

This is a copy of a comment I posted on Facebook a few nights ago. 

"I am so glad to see all of you going through these pics and recognizing that you need to document who's who. From as far back as I can remember every holiday my aunts would get the big box of pictures out of the closet and we would all sit around the big dining room table and look at the family pictures. The kids would try to guess the identity of each relative and family friend. The aunts would tell us if we were correct and then add a story about each picture. It is so heart warming to see that this tradition is still alive."

I was not prepared for what happened next. Mystery. Memories. Hints. Sorrow. Hurt feelings. Questions. Very few answers. Stunned silence. And, a family that now begins the process of healing. 

First let me say this is not my family so I can be objective. On the other hand I have to be careful not to offend anyone. What really happened here was my husband's family gathered around the big Facebook dining room table to look at pictures from their past. And what a past it was. 

As my daughter was pulling pictures from a box, suddenly letters started falling out of the back of picture frames. Letters written fifty-some years ago that hinted at mysteries and memories from the past. As in all families, there were disagreements in my husband's family, but the possible origins were never exposed. Now comes the decision. To investigate further or to let it die with those who have passed on. 

One thing you may have noticed. Most family feuds are not inherited. In other words cousins don't have the same feelings of anger or hurt that their parents had. And over time the reasons for the family squabble evaporate. Therefore, it is up to each individual family member to decide whether or not to snoop!! 

There was a huge split in my mom's family. Some of my cousins knew what caused it while others were not even aware that there was a problem. As a result, there are distant cousins who have no idea how large the family really is, as well as some cousins who have no idea why they were cut off from the family to begin with. Some of us had huge family gatherings. Others only mom, dad, and the kids for holiday dinner. There are only a couple of us left now who know the truth. 

So, do you fess up and take the chance of starting a brand new feud? It all depends, I suppose, on how much the family likes to fight. My mom's family thrives on it! As for my husband's family, I see some asking questions while others are suspiciously quiet. 

And what have we learned from this box of pictures?

*A box of pictures is not always what it seems!

*The feelings of family members must always be taken into consideration when doing genealogical research.

*It is fun to open an old box of pictures, even if has to be on Facebook.


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