Saturday, May 07, 2005

Extended Family

You know, I so very often take my family completely for granted. I don't know why, I just think it is one of those little "forget your blessings" lies that Satan likes to weave into our lives.

My sister and I volunteered for this incredibly huge project at our family reunion two years ago - to take over the Family Tree. Now, that may not sound so scary, but the family on my dad's side is really big. And our reunion includes families that trace their common root to my great-great-grandparents. When you think about their generation and the next, that generally meant lots of kids. So, the Family Tree was designed and written down back in the 60s sometime and enlarged in the late 70s. Since then, the Family Tree that I know has been on a roll of butcher paper 3 feet high by 5 or 6 feet wide.

(I've been playing with my new digital camera ... here is a photo of the tree. A photo really doesn't do it justice, but maybe you get the idea.)

Well, as you can maybe see in the bottom half of the photo, the younger generations are marrying and having children and the tree is just getting too crowded. Plus, the lady that had been maintaining the information for the past 30+ years is getting older and just couldn't do it anymore. So, Heather and I volunteered to take on the project to redesign/reformat the tree and keep up with updates for the foreseeable future - which probably means most of the rest of our lives.

Lots of time and thought went into how we could keep the tree in a large format - but we're not graphic designers. In a perfect world, we could print something straight out of
Legacy. But while it is a great freeware program, their reporting capabilities aren't very creative. And we haven't yet figured out how to do a gargantuan "organizational chart" and get everyone in the right place. If there was any way to use the hand-drawn tree and leaves, but have typed information, that would be fantastic - but again, it is labor intensive. So, we're still thinking on that.

For now, we decided to make a three ring binder - separated by each of the 9 major families that are my great-grandfather's siblings. After we spent quite a bit of time inputting all the information into Legacy, it was another huge undertaking in the spring of 2004 to actually create and type into PowerPoint all the family trees. But, the major work of creation is done. Now we are into maintenance.

We have offered the Family Tree Notebooks for sale and, for the first printing, offered people the option of having it mailed. So, last summer we spent a Saturday printing, labeling, and shipping several (I can't remember how many) notebooks. Last night Heather came over, we made sure that we had all the information updates that people had sent us through the year entered into Legacy and then on the trees in PowerPoint. Today, we spent about 4 hours at my office to print the last binders that will be delivered at the reunion on June 11 (both of us are going to have to miss the reunion this year - Heather will be on her honeymoon and I'll be in a friend's wedding).

The reunion is one of those love-hate things for me. While I love my part of this family, the reunion encompasses so many generations and levels of family I just don't know, that it is always a little awkward. So I kinda dread it, but then usually enjoy it. And now that Heather and I have such a major role in maintaining our information, it will really be glued to the calendar every year on the second Saturday in June.

So, back to paragraph one - I don't want to take my family for granted. Neither my extended family, nor my immediate family. I want to remember and cherish my heritage and history and ensure that I am expressing love and gratitude to those who came before. For today, I will be thankful that my great-great-grandfather immigrated from Germany to start a new life in America. That he settled up near Denton, Texas and farmed the land. That he had children (lots), who had children (lots), who are all my relatives.


Heather said...

Actually, our great-great-grandfather didn't come to America (as far as I know). He sent his sons (our great-grandfather included) to America, while his daughter stayed in Germany.

DJG said...

Family history is fascinating. What a great thing you both have taken on.

I have the same love/hate relationship with my family reunion in August. I always enjoy it once I am there, but I must say I had rather get together with these folks now than to only see them at the funeral home. (I know that sounds morbid, but I mean it in a good way)

Jenni said...

You're right, Heather. Thanks for the correction.

jettybetty said...

You took on a HUGE job!!! Sounds like you have done quite well with it.
I really enjoy family history, too. I am saving all kinds of things, mostly from grandparents, for my kids. I don't think they are all that interested right now, but surely one of them will be some day.
What do you think of the camera so far???