Why It’s Important to Learn About Your Family History

Have any of you watched Relative Race?!  It’s one of our families favorite shows!  It’s very similar to The Amazing Race in that contestants race across the country and are given clues and challenges along the way but in this show, the teams are searching for relatives they’ve never met.  Their challenges lead them to people who share the same DNA and the team who is standing at the end receives the Grand Prize of $50,000!  We’re a little bit obsessed with it because it’s so fun and entertaining to watch but there’s also this sweet family element of it that just brings us all closer.  BYU TV has done a great job of providing entertainment for the whole family and if you’ve got young kids or are just looking for cleaner shows to watch that have uplifting and inspiring messages, you’ve gotta check them out.  Have you heard of Studio C?  It’s one of their more popular shows but it’s the same network and everything can be streamed online for free.

Anyway!  Relative Race reached out to me a month or so ago and were looking to do some fun promotional photoshoots and video interviews with influencers from around the Country.  You can view my video and pictures here.  They had me bring in a picture of my grandma and when I arrived at the studio they spent the next few hours dressing me up!  There were two hairstylists, a makeup artist, costume stylists and a whole crew of photographers and videographers.  It.  Was.  Amazing!  They told me to learn all I could about the women whose picture I provided them and they filmed a few interviews with questions for me about her life and legacy. 

This is my sweet Grandma Henrietta!  Is she not adorable?!

She actually has a FASCINATING life and looks just like my little sister Hayley!  Her mom was a master seamstress and even though they grew up in the depression with literally nothing, they were always dressed nicely.  They’d find little snippets of fur or feathers and make gorgeous hats and accessories with them.  Despite their poverty and because they were always so well dressed, she and her sisters garnered attention from a different socio-economic class and were given some amazing opportunities to improve their lives.  I loved learning how hard working and tenacious their family was!

She worked as a Secretary to the President of a well-to-do department store and was engaged to his son.  My Grandpa Thurb (don’t you just love the names?!) started selling shoes a few floors down and immediately their romance began.  She broke it off with her fiancé and Thurb and Henrietta eloped shortly after.  As the story goes, they didn’t want to lose their jobs and kept their marriage a secret for quite awhile until my grandpa got a new job in New Jersey.  They loved dancing and I hear were the life of the party!

My Dad was their only child and they loved him more than life itself!  Henrietta taught us to value education, to work hard and to not waste.  She passed away from Alzheimers when I was little but I’ve heard she was a passionate woman who was not afraid to speak her mind.  I think we would have gotten along wonderfully haha!

It’s so important to learn about your family history!  I felt so connected to Henrietta while learning about her life and it gave me this new found purpose.  My life and the things I have are directly related to her and to my grandpa and to everyone who went before them.  I believe there are angels cheering us on in this life and I know that as we learn more about them, as we uncover trials and things they went through and gave up, the more we’ll understand our role.  Learning about my ancestors has helped me put my life and priorities into perspective and also define what I want my legacy to be.  I had many ancestors who pushed a handcart with their small families across the plains so that they could experience religious freedom!  I had relatives who gave their lives to be heard and appreciated and the more I learn about the sacrifices they made to give me this life I live now, here the US with so many blessings and freedoms, the more I want to live a better and more purposeful life!  It gives me hope and joy and I know that when I arrive at those pearly gates I’ll be greeted not just by family, but by friends.  Who have stood by me and lifted me through hard times.

Do you know who your ancestors are or where you came from?  I’d encourage you to find out!!  Be careful though because it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill… the more you learn the more you want to find out!  I vlogged my whole experience with Relative Race, it was such a special day for me and it’s also pretty cool to see behind the scenes happenings!!  All the pictures they took + interviews they filmed can be found here!

^^ don’t mind that scary face of mine on the right haha!!

Tune into Relative Race, Season 4 premiered last week and it’s gonna be such a good one!!

Abby Smith

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