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Pruning My Family Tree

They say “it’s the nuts that make a family tree worth shaking.” If that’s true, I have one of the most worthwhile bits of arboreal genealogy currently planted in the terra firma! We wear crazy like a badge of honor — and whoa buddy, my ancestors have a lot to be proud of in that respect. But what’s most fascinating to me about tracing your lineage is seeing which traits you clearly inherited from birth, and which you’ve absorbed from your environment, your experiences, and the folks around you later on in life.

Nature Vs. Nurture

Admin -- Ramona Creel Curls

Spending an afternoon amid kith and kin is proof positive that I’m legitimately sprung forth from the collective Creel/Lacey/May/Mount womb. None of us can hold a tan to save our lives, we’ve got a strange sense of humor that outsiders don’t get, we’re all pretty seriously directionally-impaired, and we suck Sasquatch’s big toe when it comes to drawing boundaries within our ranks. (The family motto should be, “Tough love? What’s that?”) Collectively speaking, we’ve got a propensity for over-analysis, a strong streak of sarcasm, an inherent talent for finding bargains, and a tendency toward addictive behavior. It seems I was also gifted with something from each of my closest relatives — my mother’s wrinkly hands, my father’s flappy feet, Ricky’s inquisitive nature, the weird word usements Patsy structures, Linda’s artsy-ness, Lizzie Ruth’s flaming red hair, and the Lacey-girl nose. (Thank you so much, Odessa!)

Then in other ways, I couldn’t be more polar-opposite from these people if I’d been genetically-mutated from an alien cell-sample in a petri dish. I’m a bleeding-heart liberal who’s agnostic to the core (thrown into a pile of conservative southerners), the only intentionally child-free one of the bunch, anal retentive and materially minimalistic (in a family of cluttered collectors), a full-time RVer more interested in adventure than security (surrounded by homebodies) — no wonder they look at me like I’m adopted!

But home is the place where (when you have to go there) they have to take you in — at least according to Robert Frost. I spent a lot of years separated (geographically, philosophically, and emotionally) from my clan — when my soul needed a return to the fold, I worried that they’d forgotten all about me. But no matter how we fight or squabble (even how many years one of us might go not speaking to another), we always take care of our own in the end. I was a little slow figuring this out, but I’ve learned that I don’t have to manage all by myself, that I really can count on these people when life gets hard — and I’d do the same for any of them in a heartbeat. Isn’t that what family (however you define it, blood or chosen) is all about?

Are You Kin?

Admin -- Ramona Creel Family PortraitI can claim at least 10 generations of relatives in the U.S. Ye olde pedigree includes colonial pilgrims, town founders, and war heroes (from the Revolution forward) — mixed in with our fair share of drunks, deadbeats, and degenerates. You’ll find cousins marrying cousins, ties to a signer of the Declaration Of Independence, and a marriage that links my red-headed self to the Cherokee nation. Not to mention the fact that it’s a damned prolific lineage. (One great-great-great-great grandfather managed to impregnate 2 different women with a total of 26 offspring — holy crap!)

And I don’t even want to know what kind of crack these people were smoking when they named their kids! Some might look at the insane level of nomenclatural repetition (generation after generation calling their sproglodytes “Richard” or “William” or “Thomas” — as well as multiple siblings all bearing the same frigging moniker) and think that my folk had no imagination. But we’ve also got Narcissus and Truston, Sofrony and Izora — with a few random Andrew Jacksons, Daniel Websters, and George Washingtons thrown in for good measure. (All I can say is thank goodness there are no Nathan Bedfords or William T. Andersons — knowing our historical ties to the Confederacy, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.)

If you’re a distant relative, god help you. I’ve done my best to create a comprehensive tally of direct ancestors — but this stuff is confusing, so I appreciate any corrections or additions you can offer. And if you’re familiar with my thoughts on reproduction, you know that this side of our bloodline is going to die out with me (as I atone for centuries of hereditary overpopulation) — so said online accounting will be my only contribution to what I so affectionately refer to as “da tree.” But I do love meeting members of my extended fam as I travel across the country — if anyone wants to have a reunion, give me a holler and we’ll party!

PS: Wanna instantly rack up some serious virtual cred? I've made it easy for you to share this content with your social networking friends, e-mail it to your peeps, or republish it in your own blog (thereby showing off how smart you are) with these links.

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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