When I was growing up, decorating eggs was my favorite part of Easter. Mom would get out a glass bowl and fill it with cold water. With a little bit of vegetable oil, the food coloring would float on top. (Science!) Add a few drops of red, blue, yellow, and green, and we had our own floating tie-dye pattern.
My sisters and I would take turns dipping the eggs. This wasn’t done willy-nilly. No, we had to examine the swirls on top of the water, maybe blow on it to mix up the colors a little bit more. We’d look at it from different angles, trying to figure out the very best place to submerge the egg.
Every now and then, an egg would turn out exactly how we envisioned it. But more often than not, we’d be surprised at how it ended up. Sometimes we would be pleasantly surprised… and sometimes not. Occasionally, there would be an egg that just wouldn’t turn out at all.
So it is with our genealogy.
We look at our ancestors and we start to dig into their lives, looking through the swirls of records they left behind. We often have ideas about what we’re going to find. We envision them living in a certain place, associating with certain people, engaging in certain activities.
Sometimes we’re right. Sometimes an ancestor will be exactly as we envisioned. But more often than not, we find something surprising. It can be a good surprise or bad surprise. And, occasionally, there are those ancestors that we can’t seem to “decorate” at all.
The afternoons spent coloring Easter eggs with my sisters are some of my favorite childhood memories. We’d laugh, we’d help each other, we’d bicker. Even though the eggs rarely turned out exactly as we envisioned, we enjoyed each other’s company and it was a lot of fun getting there.
Just like genealogy. Our ancestors are rarely exactly who we envision, but we feel more connected in the process. And we have a lot of fun getting there.