The Power Of Family Heritage

Any of you out there who have followed me for any length of time may know that I’m really interested in the heritage of my family.  As a kid, I learned through the modeling of my own parents (and their 20 brothers and sisters and in-laws, and my 30-40 first-cousins) that family is the most important thing you can ever have.  Sure, it’s possible to survive without them, but it’ll be far less fun to!

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Gram and Grampa DeMasi–my grandparents

My family’s heritage is mostly Italian–we are step-married into Sicilian, English, Norwegian, and Swedsish blood on my Dad’s side, and never really identified with any of them, I guess.  I actually don’t have many pictures at all of the Grana side of the family, either, now that I think of it.  

I’ve been trying to find a way to get my Italian citizenship (or jure sanguinis) to be recognized; basically this is an Italian law that states recognition of citizenship for anyone who can prove a clear bloodline-path back to the Old Country, no matter where you live, or how many generations removed you are.  We are currently missing a long-lost great, great, great grandmother’s birth or death certificate, I don’t remember which.  I think it will ultimately take a trip to Italy, to the town where they were born or passed to find the missing link.  Many countries have some form of similar law, but I believe Italy might be unique in the lack of a generational restriction.

I never knew (as any kid ever does) how important my grandparents would become to me, even so long after they’ve gone.  I wish I could’ve gotten to know them, to know what they know.  I got a Youtube link from my Ma a couple of days ago that really illustrates how the Italian culture in America has evolved, despite everyone’s best efforts.  If you’re Italian and want a trip down memory lane, or aren’t Italian and are interested in how the culture and customs were back then, take a look.  If you want a good laugh, take a look at this clip about the conversational pitfalls that happened to “The Italian Man Who Went To Malta.”

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A Look At My Own Family, Christmas 2009.  Me (oldest), Chris, Ma, Dad, and Greg (youngest).

Our family has grown and changed since this picture was taken…all three of us kids are married, my sister and brother in-law have two kids, and sadly, Dad passed away in January of 2010.  Just goes to show that no matter how annoying pictures are to take at the time, they will be so tightly clung-to later on.

If you are Italian and living in the US, you ought to check out your local Order Sons of Italy in America chapter (yes, women are welcome).  My wife and I attended our first meeting (which was kind of a trial-run) this past Saturday evening.  We were the youngest folks there by (easily) a quarter-century, but the folks we met have so much to give in the way of stories and knowledge, and it’s their passion and goal to pass on the culture so that it doesn’t die out here in the US, as time goes on.  

This particular meeting had a live performance; the former president’s husband is a concert pianist, and has a nine foot grand piano in his living room, and he and a professional floutist friend of his played three separate classical works by different Italian composers as a “culture/history lesson,” of sorts, for the crowd of 12 that were there.  Then we had a potluck dinner, and had a short language lesson before departing for the evening.  The food…I’m telling you–homemade antipasto, gnocchi, baked zucchini, chicken, salad, and three kinds of bread–add that to the red wine, and I felt like I was at home again.  We all left around ten o’clock, but these were the type of folks that you could sit and chat with all night.  I’m looking forward to meeting with them once again.

Is anyone out there involved with OSIA?  And even if you aren’t Italian–do you have any great stories to do tell about how your family is connected to major people or events throughout history?  

 

 

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  1. April 5th, 2013

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