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Have you ever woken up to find Indian people in your tree?  I have.  And I couldn't have been more thrilled about it.  

I'm sure you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about so let me explain:   You see, I have this little hobby...alright, ok, it's more like an addiction...and it's called Genealogy.  

Maybe some of you share my hobby.  It is after all one of the top hobbies in the US (according to some sources it's THE most common hobby). What I like most about my hobby is the further you go the more you realize that we are ALL somehow connected. Genealogy can help teach a much-needed lesson in TOLERANCE to all of us.    (Don't hate because that person just might end up being a cousin!)

Sooner or later you will find people in your family tree of some other race, religion, ethnicity, etc. that you never expected to be there.  Like me finding a beautiful Indian family the other day in my tree with photos attached of them dressed in Saris.

Join me after the fold, cousins... :)

Some people like to research their trees to see if they have any blue blood or are connected to a celebrity.  That's fine too.  But what I like the most is finding the unexpected. And there's been a lot of that.  

Think you know what ethnicity you are?  Think again!!

I grew up thinking I was of (mostly) Italian-American Catholic background with a smattering of the older settlers mixed in on one side- English, German, Irish, Sweedish.  

I have since found out that I also most likely have Mennonites in my tree.  Mennonites!  Who knew?! I almost certainly have some Jewish blood.  I'm not sure what religion the Indian family I just discovered is yet.  Hindu?  I'm sure there is some Muslim blood mixed in with my Sicilian line somehwere since they were there for centuries. But I'd have to go WAY back to find that. That's already 5 religions right there!  

In addition to the religions, I have distant cousins in so many countries that I have lost count, including places as far away as Argentina and Australia- and now, India!  

And that's just talking about the older branches of my tree, not the new additions.  

I even found out that a former co-worker is a distant cousin of mine.

The truth is that the more you get into genealogy (and I have been doing this since as far back as I can remember) the more you realize that the world truly is one.  

Whenever I hear of some person or group hating on another group of people I always think to myself "I wish I could do this person's tree."  It won't change the world, but it might make people pause for a second and think.  I'd love to show a gay hater that they have a big, flaming gay cousin in their tree- someone like, I don't know, Liberace!  ;) Just like I'd love to show a Jew-hater their Jewish roots.  (MANY more people than you think have Jewish blood- look up Crypto Jews for more info. on this, or just, uh, study Jewish history.)

Obama used to joke about being related to Cheney but I think his reasons for mentioning this go a little deeper than just a campaign trail joke.  I'm sure that Obama's awareness that he is of such mixed heritage himself has helped to open his mind and in many ways shaped who he is as a person.  

The knowledge that your tree includes many different races, religions, etc. does change your outlook.    

When I look around me, all I see are cousins.  

They just aren't all connected yet- but I'm sure they're cousins.  :) The new Indian family that just connected themselves to my tree only further emphasized that point.

So here's to them:

Shukriyah!  (That's thanks in Hindi.)

PS- feel free to add your own stories / thoughts.  Are you into Genealogy?  If so, Have you ever found anything unexpected in your tree?

Originally posted to newyorknewyork on Fri May 15, 2009 at 12:09 PM PDT.

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