About 10 years ago, my dear Aunt Sue was approaching her 85th birthday. I wanted to come up with a unique and enjoyable gift for her, which was not an easy task, since she was never too attached to anything material. Like many eventual American immigrants, who brought their best to our country, Aunt Sue was born in an impoverished region of southern Italy. She emigrated when she 3 years old, lived through The Great Depression, World War II, and a gazillion other challenging times. This remarkable woman, who doted over me and my siblings like we were her own, never ceased to express gratitude for the many blessings she saw through her opportunity in America.
What always impressed me even more than Aunt Sue singing the praises of her beloved America, was her undying sense of reverence, loyalty and celebration of her country of origin. She loved Italy far beyond what my words, or anyone’s frankly, can adequately capture. Spending time with Aunt Sue was like being in a real-life infomercial for Italia. She even went out of her way, to inform anyone who would listen, how many famous, accomplished people were actually ‘really Italian’ when their surnames might not have suggested so.
OK, so back to the gift. After some web research, I found a photo of the actual ship that took her and her parents over to America from Italy back in 1919. Even better than that find was the actual ship’s manifesto, which I also discovered through records of Ellis Island, complete with several misspellings and all. We could have filmed one of those ‘priceless’ commercials with the look on her face as she unwrapped these two gems. Ironically, through looking at the records, Aunt Sue came to realize that she had actually gotten confused over the years about her age. She was really only turning 84 that year! The household joke that naturally arose was that I had given Aunt Sue an extra year for her birthday. 🙂
These days, in our faster than ever moving world, it’s easy to lose our sense of family origin. As web communities like Facebook and Twitter provide us with a new, almost instantaneous sense of community, the neighborhood and the extended family have become less influential to many Americans. Recently though, I was pleasantly surprised to learn of a website which brings the wonder of modern technology into play with the irreplaceable sense of family nostalgia many of us long for. At MyFamilyLookUp.com, your family tree’s roots are just a few moments away.
With billions of pieces of relevant data at the ready, learning amazing tid bits about your family of origin is a lot easier to do than ever before. You can start tracing your roots for free and for just about the cost of one cafe latte a month, you get full access to this priceless information about your family. That’s a small fraction of what it costs through other genealogy services. It’s a fun process too. And after all, who knows what you might find out? Maybe you’ll find a year for one of your relatives too!