Saturday, September 28, 2013

Instead of the family tree

Nowadays there is a lot of talk of ancestry and genealogy on the net and on TV.  Having a website like, USGenWeb Project, Jewishgen, and Find A Grave to use as a reference helps to spur on this interest.  "Who Do You Think You Are?"  Is both a television show and a phrase that most of us have thought - where do I come from, who were the people who were my parents, my grandparents, my great-grandprents; the curiosity seems to get stronger as the years add on.  The answers often become more and more vague.  

The Mejia family came to Pasadena at the turn of the 20th Century.  They have flourished in business and are active in community service.  They have a very large family.   They use a family nopal - a family cactus - instead of a family tree.  This is one way they keep track of who was here before and who was related to whom.  

Pasadena, CA

The explanation I was given for this choice was that "the nopal symbolizes the strength that our families have to flourish where 'planted'".   If it is strong and well tended, it will flourish even in harsh conditions.  A tree that's transplanted may have weakened roots and may not survive in its new spot. 

Sutter County, CA

There is another aspect to the transplanted nopal that's worth noting.  Despite it being transplanted, it has something of the original cactus that informs future generations.  At some level there is an essence of the original nopal about it.

Bill Hathom, Llano County, TX

Years ago Liz Espinoza, an artist who lives in Altadena, designed an image that was transferred to papel picado work that she did.  We have used this image so that students, big and small, might add the names of those in their family circle.  We hope that his activity helps them learn a bit more about their family and will help them flourish wherever they are planted.

We will have this available for children and their family circle at the jamaica on October 19th.

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