Roots in the Family Tree – Memories and Surprises

I recently had my DNA analyzed by Ancestry.com and didn’t figure I would find too many surprises. I always grew up saying I was half German and half American since my mother had come from Germany and my Dad from America. Makes sense, right? I didn’t figure I would find a lot of surprises in my DNA. Wrong!

Great Britain 27%
Scandinavia 25%
Western Europe 22%
Ireland 11%
Eastern Europe 9%
Italy Greece 2%
Iberian Peninsula 2%
West Asia 1%
Middle East 1%
The last two percentages were possible but the rest is the ‘real me’ for sure. I was surprised to not have much German showing up but I do look like my Dad’s side of the family. The Irish was a surprise but a suspicion as the gene for red hair usually indicates Scotland or Ireland. I don’t have the red hair in the family but showed Scotland and Ireland in the analysis. Seemingly, my antecedents really got around.
So far, I’ve only traced my Father’s side of the family and have gotten back to the 1300’s where we have a couple of Knights and Ladies. My husband said to follow exactly from which son of a son of a son I could trace back to but it turns out that until the 1800’s, they each had one son! My great grandfather broke the tradition and had ten children and my grandfather had four children.
Seeing the names of the Aunts and Uncles (my Father’s sibling) brought back a few memories. I don’t remember my Uncle Emerson but met my Aunt Helen one time. The one, however, I remember the most without having seen her was my Aunt Viola who was married to my Uncle Emerson. It seems she was almost my second mother!
When my mother was pregnant with me, she was horribly sick the entire time. She became pregnant being underweight and weighed even less at nine months pregnant. Things, however, went well and she went home with her baby girl. Much to her surprise, Uncle Emerson and Aunt Viola showed up to visit a couple of weeks after my birth. You have to remember that back in those days, telephones were for local calls and letters took a week or more to arrive. My aunt and uncle lived in Missouri and we were in Colorado at the time. Seems that my Father panicked at my mother’s ill health and told his brother, Emerson, that if something happened to his wife, he couldn’t copy with a baby and he would like them to adopt me! My mother and Aunt Viola were friends and this was never mentioned but I can imagine she shed a few tears at not returning home with a baby. She couldn’t have children.
Well, I had a difficult time finding information about Aunt Viola for the family tree this week. When Uncle Emerson died, she kind of faded out of the family picture. My grandmother wasn’t a gem to any degree so I think Aunt Viola struck out on her own and cut her connections with the family. After a lot of digging (I’m getting good at researching family roots!), I found her and was saddened to discover she passed away in 2011! I would have like to have seen her and talked to her. So even not knowing/remembering what she looked like, it was a little sad to have missed a tiny reunion with someone that had been nice to my German mother fresh from the war and thank her for having cared about my welfare.

Thanksgiving Thinking . . . Snacking Oatmeal Cookies!

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November first shows up and you know it is countdown to Thanksgiving. I try and plan ahead but there are always last-minute panic attacks that disappear once the turkey exits the oven and friends and family are nothing but happy with the holiday food placed in front of them. The days leading up to the feasting day can be testy, however, My thought is making a big batch of something fun and sort of healthy to ward off unhappy ‘spirits’ as they get anxious for the real day and are tired of quick meals in order to make time for the big, Thursday meal in November.

My favorite go-to snack has always been oatmeal cookies! I have a multitude of recipes but this is one of my favorites. They go together easily and if things get really testy in the preceding days, I’ve found that sandwiching two  cookies around a small scoop of ice cream is a miraculous tonic.

Barbara’s Favorite Oatmeal Everything Cookies

Recipe:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 Tablespoon (yes tablespoon) vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups oatmeal (quick cooking or old fashioned, not instant)
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Zest of one orange

The key is to soak the raisins or dried cranberries. This makes all the difference in the world. Beat eggs and vanilla together and then add the raisins or dried cranberries, stir. Soak for about an hour.

Directions:
Preheat to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir the dry ingredients until well blended. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix well. Now add in the egg and raisin or cranberry mixture. Then add oatmeal and chocolate chips/nuts. zest and combine well. Form into balls on cookie sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2-5 minutes or until firm enough to transfer to wire rack.