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Why Your Family History Matters

Did you know that October was the Family History Month? That's right! Since 2001, this month has been celebrated as the one to learn and appreciate your family history. So, what's it have to do with a blog dedicated to all things American West? Read on to find out.

Family heritage isn't just the DNA and family tree. What's often overlooked are the stories that have been passed on from generation to generation, the invisible ties that bind family members no matter how close or far away from each other they live, and the memories from time they spend together. Now, granted, in today's world, many families are broken by lack of a parent, strife, and other modern evils that affect both the individual and the whole family, but that's exactly why we have to go back in time and look at the pioneering families in the American West to discover that "secret glue" that holds families together.

Cowboy culture, or the culture of American West puts high value on honesty, integrity, hard work, and maintaining proper relationships with those around us. Yes, rugged individualism is prized in the American West, but that individualism doesn't exclude the ones closest to us: our families. On the contrary, those families that stayed together, worked together, and went through thick and thin together only became stronger. So that's why it's important to listen to and remember those stories of long ago that your grandma or grandpa told. That's why it's important to consider the lifestyle your family had for generations before you declare you'll never set foot in the country again. That's why it's important to spend time with your loved ones while they are still on this earth.

There's an invisible bond to our family heritage in all of us, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not. Wouldn't it be great to continue passing those family stories to the younger generations, telling them about the life their ancestors lived, and teaching them to respect that way of life? Now that I'm an adult, I wish I could have spent more time with my grandfather listening to his memories of raising milk goats in his backyard on the outskirts of the capital city, or growing up as a country boy taking care of chickens on his mother's family farm. Most of my life, until fairly recently, I used to live in cities - big cities, really really big cities, or small cities but cities nevertheless. All of that time, I felt a pull toward living in the country without realizing why. There were no job opportunities, there were no opportunities for artist exposure in the country, or so I thought, but I still liked the idea of being surrounded by wide open spaces and communing with nature and animals. Now that I'm living my country reality, I am beginning to understand why I had this yearning all along. I think it has a lot to do with my family history.

What are the things you appreciate about your family history? I'd love to know. Feel free to share in the comments below.

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