Monday is Valentine’s Day. As I was talking with Anne (my wife and the publisher of The Morgan County News) this week, we were discussing my column. My mind turned towards Valentine’s Day and how it related to family history.
My wife has a somewhat unique view of Valentine’s Day that I have come to appreciate. Most people think of Valentines as a day for sweethearts. Couples in love seem to dominate the holiday. Anne’s view is that Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate those we love. She expresses her feelings to friends, our sons, her mother, and others.
As we talked, my mind turned to those in my life whom I love, whether they are still here, or have passed on. Those whom I have met, that are most engaged with family history, feel a strong connection with their ancestors. They have come to love them through their research. This is one of the reasons that I encourage those that are searching for ancestors to do more than search out genealogical facts. In my view this love is the difference between genealogical research and family history.
When we do family history we spend time to come to know and love our ancestors. In many cases I have felt their love for me as well. As I see the sacrifices they made in their lives it fills me with a sense of the love that they had for their family.
Anne’s great grandfather is a good example. His wife converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about ten years before she died in childbirth. When she died he was left with a large family. He recognized the opportunities that would be available to some of his children if they were to emigrate to the United States. He, like many in the northeast of England at that time, was unemployed and very poor. He gave three of his children to the LDS missionaries to bring to Utah. I cannot imagine how hard it would be to let three of your children go. They found a better life than he could offer. From his decision my wife was born and I have had the blessing of having her in my life. His love and unselfishness has blessed my life in more ways than I can count.
There are many stories like this as we search for information about our ancestors. Many of them showed their love for us in the choices they made and the sacrifices offered to give us a better life. The love I feel from my ancestors buoys be up when I have down days. This love gives me the fortitude to continue in my search for ancestors during unsuccessful searches.
So, in my view, Valentine’s Day is a day about family history. It is an opportunity to reflect on the love that our ancestors had for us. It is a day to feel love towards them. It is a day to strengthen the bonds we have with our family here. It is a day to celebrate those we love in our lives whether they are still living, or have passed on.
I hope that you have a happy Valentine’s Day! I hope that you take a moment to express love to those around you, and I hope that you take a moment to snuggle into the feeling of love from your ancestors. Taking your sweetheart along with you to do some research would not be amiss either. A family history date is always a good time. Happy Valentine’s Day.