My ancestry was as vague to me as the Monroe Doctrine. It wasn’t until my oldest started looking at colleges that I thought about delving deeper into my lineage. Since winning a scholarship for making a suit out of duct tape seemed futile, I looked into ones that he might get-like the Shamrock Irish Heritage Contest for my Mom’s side of the family, or the Sons of Italy Foundation Grant for my Dad’s. Or one I really wanted him to get-a Native American scholarship.
Rumors had circulated for years that one of my ancestors married or possibly stole a woman from an Indian tribe and that’s where we all got our hawk noses and darker skin. I became obsessed. The money was great, the kid was smart, the only missing piece was finding great-great grandma’s name. But the rudimentary internet was nothing like it is now, and after a few futile attempts to weed through thousands of Bennett’s (the ancestor surname) I gave up and focused more successfully on baseball scholarships. Until last year.
And that’s where I got interested again. One of my Bucket List items was to kiss the Blarney Stone. Since another relative had done the legwork and found a distant cousin in Sligo, all I had to do was go. I booked the trip in September not just for myself, but for my 85 year old mother.
Ireland is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever visited. I was fascinated with their history-the constant invasion of Vikings and British. I was enchanted with their music, songwriters and dancers. I was hung over with their Irish Coffee and Muldoon Liqueur.
And then, another surprise happened. A genealogy link to a half-first cousin I didn’t know I had, led to them opening their home to welcome me as we learned a little bit about each other and tried to fill in the blanks on how this happened. My family tree grew another branch.
This was the year I resolved to open some of those closed places in my heart. I opened my home to a college kid playing on a summer league, which brought back the joy of baseball. Instead of holding a mental wake on the 5th anniversary of Wingman’s death, I celebrated his love of music at a weekend concert series. I welcomed grandchild number four knowing that my heart will always be open for more. I made dozens of mermaid blankets and gave most of them away to my friends with new grandchildren. And I started volunteering with a group that brings joy to the marginalized with food, warm clothing and music at the holidays.
Sadly, I already know that at least a couple of doors are going to be closing in the new year. This was the last Christmas in my house. Rather than rattle around in a home meant for a large family, paying high property taxes and ridiculous flood insurance, I've decided to downsize and enjoy the ride a little more. Those other doors will lead to more blogs to write.
Closing doors lead me to open my eyes to the infinite power of possibility. As my next husband Bill Murray said in Scrooged, I’m ready for it. Ready for my miracle. Are you ready for yours?
Happy New Year, and God Bless Us Every One.