There seems to be a continuing interest in researching one’s family background and heritage.
However, sometimes it may not be such a great idea to shake the family tree too hard, since we can’t be sure what might fall out of it!
Hopefully most of us will find mostly “good fruit” – those who lived well and did the right thing, no matter the obstacles they faced. These are the inspirational lives that we can be proud to have in our lineage.
But there might also be some nuts that fall out of our family tree as well!
Some could be the good nuts we may enjoy, like pecans, almonds and pistachios. These are the eccentric souls or “characters” that add texture, color and flavor as their legacy to our ancestral heritage.
However, some of the family nuts might turn out to be the really tough nuts we did not expect to find; more like black walnuts.
Black walnuts are nearly black on the outside, with a dark outer skin that can stain hands and clothes as it is peeled off. The shell around the nut is very rough and hard; very hard to crack.
When the shell is cracked with a good hammer blow, much of the nutmeat can be crushed by the impact.
Whatever nutmeat is left must often be extracted with a nut pick, piece by piece. If we are careful, we can get the larger pieces, maybe an eighth of the nutmeat in one piece of shell.
Most of the pieces we finally extract may be almost too small to even eat, other than as bits of flavor in nut bread.
Almost seems like too much effort for so little reward.
(But then again, most of life’s greatest experiences do not come without effort, do they?)
Hopefully we will also find pleasant surprises grafted into the family tree. Perhaps we will find branches with fragrant flowers that bore fruit we knew nothing about.
Whether we find lovely fruits, strange nuts, or good sturdy branches (stalwarts of their communities), all have contributed to the legacy that has formed our character are as families and individuals.
Since the present is rooted in the past, knowing the past (family stories and legacies) can give us deeper insights into the way we are now, which might prove enlightening.
My wish for you, should you shake your family tree, is that you may find the flowers, fruits and good nuts in your family tree.
But if you find there are dirty black nuts falling from your family tree, you may feel stained by the mere touch of the discovery. But like a badly done or poorly selected henna tattoo, the stain should eventually wear off…and we might even learn something from the experience!