May 18, 2010

Parlez vous Francais?

jan
My decidedly German mom and me. Don't you love the mini skirt and knee socks?



I've always known that the maternal side of my family is German. Very German. So German that one set of my Great Grandparents didn't even speak much English.

Growing up I was also told that the paternal side of my family is Scandinavian and that my maiden name is a shortened form of a fairly common Swedish last name.

The Internet is an amazing thing and one evening, while I was on the computer, an ad popped up and a few clicks later I found myself at ancestry.com. If you've never visited the site it's worth a trip. By simply typing in your last name, your maiden name, your mother's maiden name or any other name you choose, you can quickly find your grandparents, your great grandparents and generations and generations of those who came before you. The interesting part is that there are actual copies of obituaries, census records and social notices -- did you know it use to make the newspaper when someone came to visit you from out of town? -- that you can view online that document the information you're being given. It's like taking a virtual climb through your family tree. I had spent more than an hour climbing through the branches of mine when I reached the year my many-greats paternal grandfather came to the United States from France.

Wait a minute. France? I'm not French. I'm half German and half Swedish.

I found a family message board on ancestry.com and posted a message. I was sure there was some mistake. Perhaps my many-greats grandfather was simply a wayward Swede who made a stop in France for a good croissant before making his way to the United States. Maybe in spite of all the wonders of the Internet the information was simply wrong.

I posted and waited.

Two days later my message board post was answered by someone in Texas who shares a common ancestor with me. Our common ancestor's name is Samuel and my newly-found Texas relative's name is Tom. It was Tom who confirmed my findings.

The first of our line in America was Jean Augustine Le Rossignol. Yes, a French person.

I had to read the words a few times to let them sink in.

French.

How can I be French?

Now don't get me wrong. I love France. Paris is one of my very favorite places in the world. The city is so rich with history and culture that you're literally tripping over it as you walk the streets. And the food. Oh, the food. I still don't understand how French women stay so skinny.

But me French? I can't be French.

I suffered through the most-miserable class of my college career, Scandinavian Literature, only because I was, in part, Scandinavian. I like wearing clogs and think Dala horses are lovely little works of art.

And I don't drink wine. Ever. How can you be French and not like wine?

When I got this bit of bad news, the news about being French, Eric decided to tell me that he was in fact Scandinavian. I knew his maternal side of the family is German, just like mine, but he convinced me that the other side was absolutely, positively Scandinavian. He just didn't convince me of this, he reminded me of it as often as he could.

I pouted about it for nearly two weeks. And then I sent his mother an e-mail.

Marilyn,

For the past twelve days Eric has been, repeatedly, telling me that Ron's side of the family is Scandinavian. Is that true? Eric is currently waving a Swedish flag while singing Denmark's National Anthem in what he describes as a "show of homeland pride." If you can let me know soon, I'd really appreciate it.


Kristi


A response came within the hour.

Kristi,

Ron's family is not Scandinavian. They're German.
Give Eric a hug for me and tell him I said to stop waving that flag.

Marilyn


I told Eric the news. He just smiled and called me "Frenchy"

I looked him square in the eyes, smirked and said, "Why thank you. Yes I am."

Then I grabbed that darn flag out of his hand and ran as fast as I could.

9 comments:

  1. What a cute post...I'm heading over to ancestry.com now!

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  2. Anonymous7:23 AM

    I love this post - - thanks for sharing!

    Jennifer

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  3. This is hysterical! Love it!

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  4. Isn't the internet amazing?
    Fun post!

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  5. Anonymous6:04 PM

    How old are you in the photo? It is uncanny how you look just like the photo, just as adult version.

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  6. Kristi,
    One of your best posts... ever. And I've been following since we waited for our girls together.

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  7. Anonymous7:27 PM

    Very sweet story - thanks sharing!
    Nancy

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  8. Anonymous10:00 AM

    Love the matching dresses, but where are mom's knee high socks? :) You sure do look like her.
    Marge

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  9. Seriously, those socks, mini-skirts, and hairdos could not be any cuter! Love it!

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