I Have Become the Most Un-Interesting Man in the Family


uninterstingIt happened. I felt it coming on over the past few days. No one has said anything – I think they are just too polite –  but I can see it in their eyes.

I have become one of them.

Worse things could happen – I mean every family has got one, right?

Until recently, in our family it has always been my Mother-in-Law. It was just common knowledge. We all had gotten used to her – for the most part – and I am mildly ashamed to say that we did joke about her from time to time. May she rest in peace.

Perhaps I have taken on her role, and my family is now paying the price.

For example:

As we were gathered around the dinner table having a nice conversation, I excitedly announced to my family,

“Turns out that that Charles was actually born in Michigan – not Vermont! I found it on an 1850 census!”

My youngest son stopped eating, mid-bite, with his fork frozen in the air. I glanced to my EC, just it time to see her mouthing the words to my boys, “It’s OK, it’s OK.”

It wasn’t an isolated incident.

The teenage FOML asked me if I watched any of the Pacers/Hawks playoff game last night. My reply? “Did you know you had ancestors that lived in Indiana? back in the 1800’s?”

My youngest asked me what I was doing on my laptop. My reply? “Just saving souls, son. Just saving souls.”

My EC and I were in front of the TV. I looked over at my wife, and she was crying as credits came up. I slowly closed my laptop and eased it to the ground next to me, then asked her what was wrong. She said, “That was so sad…were you even watching?” Oops.

Later that night, I dragged myself to bed at 1:00am. I carefully snuggled up to my EC. She stirred, and asked me if everything was alright. I whispered in her ear, “Everything’s great. Turns out that Harriet had two different husbands.”

Yes, I have become that person. The Most Un-Interesting Man in the Family.

And it isn’t just here at home: People on Facebook are sending me messages, checking to make sure if everything is okay – because they haven’t heard from me.

The thing that makes it so weird is that I have never been the family history person. Nothing pained me more than hearing details of long-dead ancestors that I have never met – or even knew existed. I recall sitting around the Sunday dinner table trying desperately to change the subject when my Mother-in-Law got revved up about her research.

I guess I owe her an apology. I am sure she is up there somewhere laughing hysterically at me. In my defense, this stuff is like a drug: Addictive, and occasionally euphoric. If you want to know how I first got ‘caught,” I wrote about it here.

I imagine that this obsession will pass, as do most of my righteous flurries. But for now, while I am knee-deep in brand-spankin-new pink and blue cards, I need my family to be patient with me.

I need my EC to squeeze my hand at the dinner party and gently say, “Not here, honey. Not now.”

I need my sons to feign interest when I suggest we all get up at 4:00am so we can get a few baptisms done before start the day.

I need a better battery for my laptop, and some good stretching exercises. I need some sleep.

But I feel like Kevin Costner as Elliot Ness, from The Untouchables,

“I have become what I have beheld, and I am content that I have done right.”

(You know Elliot Ness’s parents were from Norway. Yep. My great-grandma’s third husband was from Norway. FYI.)


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  1. I was welcomed into the circle of crazies earlier this year 🙂

    I wonder if there is a Family History Anonymous group somewhere because I need to stop and put the garden in sometime this spring.

  2. I think I am becoming that person, too (at the ripe age of 34): my grandparents were the ones who kept the family history, but my parents never really caught the bug, either because “it’s been done” or because “the records were lost”. Now that my grandparents have passed or have dementia, and now that new records are being made available every day and I have computer know-how, it’s me! And I am even thinking about writing a historical fiction based on the very barest of bare bones details I have learned. So yeah- I spend a couple of hours researching their address on the 1880 census, etc…and no one seems as interested as I am in what I find.

    • I think the younger you are, the more comfortable you are with search engines and refining searches to get what you need. Kids growing up “on-line” should have an easier time than older people because it is second nature to them.

      • At least you knew to say “search engine” and didn’t refer to the computer as a newfangled crazy box….so that’s a plus.

  3. Thanks for a good laugh this morning. I have suffered bouts of familyhistoryitis my whole adult life (being mid 30s I guess I’m young still. Anyway I have gotten my sisters all interested but my brother still rolls his eyes at the stories our parents and grand parents share while I’m taking notes. My children have learned to hit me in the head to get my attention on the days I can’t think about anything else to remind me to make dinner or take them places. Some times I talk back to my dead relatives and tell them I have to take care of the living right now and they will have to wait. It’s an addiction. It’s a logic puzzle. It’s really fun. 🙂

  4. This made me laugh…maybe because I understand. You totally nailed it: “this stuff is like a drug. Addictive, and occasionally euphoric.” Absolutely right! Now that my kids are all in school, if I’m not careful I can lose a big ‘ol block of time. Laundry sits. Dinner doesn’t get made. Exercise? Well, that wasn’t happening anyway…
    Enjoy this season, and just ignore the eye-rolling from the FOML. Odds are, they were already rolling them about something else, right?

  5. While reading this I looked up at the ceiling checking to see if you had a hidden camera on me. This is so spot on. Thanks for the great post.

  6. Nobody knows the power of a bug bite, as I sit here and look at my pile of blue, pink, and most importantly yellow cards. I think it all comes back to that “curse” of turning the hearts of the children to the fathers. right now I am not only researching my ancestors, but also the people that they associated with just so that I can get a better feel for who they were.

    How many people think that they know who Nephi and Alma were just because of how well we know the scriptures….yet they lived 2,500+ years ago, but they still feel like our long lost best friends. How much better it is to know our immediate ancestors, and the little things that make them tick.

    My generation spans more than 30 years from me (1st) to my youngest cousin (37th), who is younger than the youngest FOML. It is interesting that we do get a few eye rolls every once in a while, but at the same time, the “younger” part of the generation and even my kids laugh at the stories of my great-grandparents, who lived to see 4 of their great-great grand children. Some of the “middle” generation have even expressed jealousy at not being old enough to remember much more than flashes of Christmas at Grandpa Nephi’s.
    Personally I am proud to be “one of those people” because I am the one who gets the phone call when a nephew or niece or cousin is writing a talk and wants a “good ole family story” to relate to their topic.

  7. Along with the pink and blue cards, don’t forget the yellow ones.
    I have been addicted to family history since the age of 15, I’m now 67 and am so glad I have lived this long because the research is so much easier and faster to do these days. And I have a wonderful EC who shares the same passion. Both of us are converts and have found more than enough ancestors to keep us going to the temple for as long as we both live. In fact, we have been blessed to be able to do three endowments every week and we have now begun to do all the ordinances from baptisms to sealings.
    It’s truly a blessing and we feel closer to our ancestors who we have never met than other members of our family. Keep up the great work.

  8. You’ve been bitten my friend. I experienced this when I was assigned to the newly opened family history center on Nowy Swiat in Warsaw Poland for the last 6 weeks of my mission. I seriously came home planning to major in Genealogy. As far as I know, only BYU has such a major, and although the transfer from BYUI was in the works, it never happened because God decided I should work on creating my own family history instead –I met my husband.
    Life has a way of diluting that spirit of Elijah feeling, and to be honest I’ve been afraid of rekindling it in my life for a while since I know how addicting it can be and I need to focus on the here and now as I raise my little family. I feel like I can’t afford to get hooked again, at least not for a little while. Is that bad? I’ll gladly go to the temple and do names that other people have prepared; maybe I could even do a bit of indexing on Sunday evenings, but that’s as much as I can let myself do right now or I’m afraid of going overboard. As the good book says: “To everything there is a season…”

    (Now I’ve got you singing the song, ha!)

  9. I am that person and I get to tell my story to perfect strangers not just family. I am a docent at the St Louis national parks museum under the arch in St Louis. I talk to the people from Norway about my people from there, and the Germans about my people from there and the English about my people from there and my Swedes and my people from there. Most are condescending. Then I get down and dirty about my people in the Revolution and my people on both sides of the civil war and how my people helped settle Fort Wayne and Muncie Indiana. I talk about my GG grandfather the confederate army nurse who homesteaded in Nebraska and how his children picked up buffalo and cow chips and, and, and, and, and, and, they lived in a dugout house on the hill side for 7 years and how his brother was a cowboy in Texas and got into a gunfight and lost against Wild Bill Hickok. Boy do I have it bad! It is amazing how as you know the name and circumstances how they begin to show their characters and one gets to know who they are. I look forward to meeting them all one day.

  10. I had to read this out loud to my husband because we are only 32 and totally have had the late nights, dead batteries, fatigue from getting hooked. I had a really late night one night in my 9th month of pregnancy with my first son while my husband was working late… Little did I know that I would have the baby the next day! I still chuckle when I see the date stamps from that day…and curse the addiction that kept me from getting sleep!

  11. WOW…MY great grandmother Halvorsen’s 1st (and only) husband came from Norway too! maybe we’re related! !….it would be great to know I have a published MMM blogger and comedian in the Family…I just love your posts..they helped keep me distracted from the miserably cold Winter (and now Spring) we had/have up here in New Hampshire….plus I read them to my husband, AMM, (Advanced-age Mormon Man) during our scripture study too!

    • I love this article ! And many others of yours I have read. I have had that same bug since I was about 16 years old, and now I’m 79 — pushing 80! I’m sure it’s the very reason I write my blog — and post on line many family history stories. I’m just finishing up on my mother’s life, and have written about many in the past almost 5 months since I started blogging. If you, or any of your readers would like to read of some of MY ancestors ! (Who knows? we may be related!) you can find it here:

      Keep writing — you are enjoyed by many people! Paralee Eckman (Grandma Pal)

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