Create a Family Tree

I glanced over the broken pencil crayons laying like pick-up sticks on the table, then at the huge piece of white flip chart paper.  Create a family tree?  I can’t draw, but Sunshine and Lily were eager to get started, so I quickly sketched out a tree worthy of a six-year-old: straight brown trunk, round green top.  Next: add the fruit and roots.

We were at a Catholic family life conference and our bishop had given each family this project.  Our “family trees” weren’t supposed to be about people, but rather about the “fruit” our family produced and what we were “rooted” in.  I wrote “Jesus” down the trunk of the tree, feeling He is the one who supports our family, and then I pondered the big empty space within the green top.

First, I wrote “love.”  Our family loves each other, so that’s the most obvious fruit of our relationships.  We have a lot of fun together, so I added “joy.”  Next, I wrote “faith,” because it’s very important to my husband and I that we grow in our faith and teach our children about faith.  Then I was stumped.  What other “fruits” does our family produce?  What do we create for those around us by being in a family together?

Sunshine began tracing her hand in the top of the tree, which gave me inspiration.  Inside her hand, I wrote “help.”  My husband is currently job searching, and as he looks back on the jobs he’s worked in the last decade and the sort of job he wants to have for the next decade, one thing keeps coming up: he wants to help people.  As a family, we help each other but also reach out to others outside our family to help them.

Thinking about my husband’s work made me think about my own work, and I wrote “encouragement.”  When I think about why I blog, that’s the reason.  Connecting with other moms has always encouraged me, especially when I was a new mom who didn’t even realize I needed other moms.  Now, I share my journey through motherhood in an effort to encourage other moms.

My husband pointed to the roots and suggested, “Grandparents.”  Obviously we are here because our parents chose to have children, but our parents have also been a huge support in our lives.  My in-laws have helped us with all of our moves and regularly make the 16-hour drive to visit us and celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.  When I was expecting Lily and working at Starbucks, they helped watched Sunshine.  Our parents also model the faith we are trying to live and teach our children.

Beside grandparents, we added “community.”  After four moves in four years, we realized the importance of community, of having like-minded friends around us.  Community includes our church community but also our neighborhood.  We’ve been blessed to live in student family housing while we’re studying at UVic, so that most of our neighbors are also attempting to juggle family and studies and can support us in that (and we can help them too).  Community nourishes our family.

After we drew our trees, we had the chance to share them with other families at the conference.  It was inspiring to see what everyone produced.  For example, another family put “saints” for their roots, which I heartily agreed with.  Others added “school.”  One family drew the Catholic Church as a greenhouse over their tree, sheltering it.  I really enjoyed the chance to think about our family and what is important to us.

What does your family tree look like?  Have you done a project like this?

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