Sometimes, you just have to practice self control when you’re around your family. (‘m referring to the living ones and not the death ones who left no documents or photos behind.) I bet, as the family historian, you’ve encountered some of the following situations:
- They just make one excuse after another for not going into (Fill in the blank – attic, basement, closet, storage facility, garage) to retrieve the (Fill in the blank – birth certificate, Bible, photo) that you desperately need yet…
- You receive a frantic call at an inopportune time wanting to know if your family is related to a celebrity
- Your family expects you to help them for FREE join a lineage society
- Even though you’ve shared all the discoveries you’ve found and ignored the glassy eyed bored looks you’ve gotten in return, they want some arcane piece of info on some distant ancestor because someone at work or some show on TV made them think about that story you told, only you have no knowledge of what they’re talking about because they’ve jumbled different people and events together in their minds
- You’ve bought the DNA kit, helped them follow the simple instructions, mailed it back for them and monitor it and they don’t believe the results (even though your DNA and theirs is a close match)
Those are my top 5 pet peeves and over the past holiday season, each of them raised their ugly heads. Two of the above became the most problematic.
The first situation was the result of Ancestry’s recent upgrade of their DNA results. With the old results, one family member showed more Swedish than anyone else in the family. As a genealogist, my take on it is “So what” as we all know that the percentages are fluid since they’re based on the pool tested. As the pool grows, so the results change. I have explained this in the past but I guess somehow I’m not doing a good job. In my family’s case, the updated stats shifted the percent slightly making the former number 1 in second place and the the former second place in first. No big deal, right? Evidently it was. Instead of just asking for my take on the change, the newly placed number 1 decided that the results were questionable and so purchased a test from a competitor. Of course, the competitor’s pool was different and the results varied but in this individual’s head, those results were more valid (because they hadn’t been updated yet). Since the percents of test two were even less than the first test results, the individual became upset at all the ‘misleading info and the waste of money.”
It was time to take a deep breath. I ignored the waste of money part since I had paid for the first test and the individual had gotten a deep discount on the second test. I brought up my own results from several companies and showed how the results vary and again explained why. I don’t think it got through any better than the previous times I’ve explained but it did end the conversation on a positive note.
The second situation was a family member who asked me to write down the birth and death dates for two ancestors. When I did, I was informed that I was wrong. I had to bite my tongue to not respond, “If you know the information why are you asking me?” Instead, after a pause, I asked if the individual wanted a copy of the birth and death certificates. The response was no. I then asked why the information was being questioned. The answer was it didn’t seem like it had been that long ago when the individuals died. Sure, as we age, time seems to go much quicker. In this situation, I owned the problem as I jumped to the conclusion that the asker doubted my research when that wasn’t the case at all.
Family can be a help in our genealogy quest – not just with gaining names and dates of ancestors but in showing us character areas where we need to grow.