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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The importance of La Famiglia

“Our history begins before we are born. We represent the hereditary influence of our race, and our ancestors virtually live in us.”  James Nasmyth

Last night as I was going through my desk, I came upon many photos of my great grandparents. As I stared at the photos, I was first in awe of how beautifully dressed there were and then I began to think about what lurked in their minds. What were there dreams and aspirations, Im certainly aware of the history of my family, coming over from Italy to begin a new life, however what was going on internally, I will never know.
I love looking at these old photos as I see traces of me and my family in the faces and bodies of those gone before us. I wonder what made them laugh or cry or depressed. Was one of my past relatives just like me, or one of my children. I often ponder the lineage of my family.
Over the summer  I went to the Tenament museum in New York City.  I was amazed, impressed and stirred all at the same time. The stories of how immigrant families lived back in the early 1900′s combined with touring the factual residences of these people left quite an impression on me.
 The hardship and lifestyle was incredibly difficult coupled with the distance from one’s home land would seem overwhelming and yet they managed. The human spirit given will and determination can persevere.
We are all so incredibly spoiled. I can’t wait to take my children there one day so they can truly see what life was like not that long ago. Our ancestors that came from Italy had nothing but a dream and a desire for a better life.
 We are left with the photos and the memories that are recalled from my great aunts who are living. It is important for me to keep their memory alive and I do in my home. I have their immigration papers and photos framed and hanging in our hallway. They are the reason why my life is so good and rich with wonderful things. How could I possibly not honor them.
I can only imagine what life back then was like for immigrants in the 1900′s. I would give anything to have  a conversation with my Great-grandparents. It would be fascinating to hear about their struggles, their desires and what motivated them.  I think it is so important to keep in mind the history of our families. I believe we owe that to them and how quickly the stories fade if no one passes them on.
 Our lives are infinitely simpler thanks to those who have had the courage to seek out a better life. How can we not be grateful. xo

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