I’ve always been fascinated by family trees, ancestry and where my roots lie. The immediate knowledge is easy: My dad was from the Seattle area, my mom was born in North Carolina, and I grew up in Puyallup, Wash., about 30 miles south of Seattle, which is where I was born.
[By the way…If you’re not from Puyallup, or Washington, don’t bother trying to say the word correctly. You can’t. But like almost all cities and towns in the Great State of Washington, Puyallup is named after a local American Indian tribe.]
Various jobs, educational opportunities, and more jobs led to me moving the San Francisco Bay Area in late 1999, and I have lived here ever since. My daughters were born at a great hospital in Berkeley [although I can’t vouch for how great the rest of Berkeley is], and my wife has only ever lived in Oakland. She took me in like a stray cat and, unless some wildly better paying job comes up elsewhere, we are likely to remain in Oakland for the duration.
But, I am not from here. My heart is still in Seattle. Exhibit A of that is the Seattle Mariners logo tattoo on my upper left arm, and Exhibit B is this video that my wife took of me wiping away the tears of joy that came from watching my hometown Seahawks destroy the Denver Broncos, 43-8, to win their first Super Bowl after almost 40 years of trying.
Still, even with all of that, and things like our annual summer family drive to visit mom for a week, I’m not even from where I’m from. Don’t get me wrong: I am a complete homer for anything from around Seattle and I am the most-American American you are likely to meet. However, being an American, I, like everyone else in this country, have roots that go back centuries and off into other countries.
But…Off into just what other countries?
A cousin of mine, I think a third cousin, has spent many hours researching our family tree, and it is fascinating. If what she has done is correct, then we can trace our roots back to the Netherlands in the 1400s. As Cleavon Little, in the hilariously un-PC classic “Blazing Saddles” might have said, “To let you in on a family secret, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather was Dutch.”
But I have always felt there was more at play here. Like, while we might have Dutch in our bloodline [And really, who wouldn’t want to claim the land of Heineken as part of their roots?] by talking to relatives, I’ve always felt that “we” were from someplace else.
Which is why I recently spit in a tube, shook it up to mix it with some activation agent, and mailed the whole thing off to Ancestry.com to see what their DNA profile came back with. I just got the report over the weekend, and the findings seem pretty conclusive to me…
According to the results, my “Ethnicity Estimate” is:
Surprise! A white kid from Puyallup, Wash. comes back with 99% European ethnicity! I did live in Japan for three years in the mid-1990s, but I guess none of the Japanese DNA wore off on me.
GREAT BRITAIN: 83%
Well, Tally Ho, indeed! I always had a feeling the name “Crum” had some kind of British roots behind it. England, Scotland and Wales. Mix it all together and you have a son of the British Empire. I believe this explains a great deal about why I like Bombay Sapphire and tonics, Margaret Thatcher and Monty Python so much. God Save the Queen!
Nothing like a little Viking blood running through your veins to give you an edge when you’re reaching for a pint of ale, right? Also, this seems about the right amount of Scandinavia to have with me because it correlates nicely to the percentage of ABBA songs that I can hear without wanting to light myself on fire. And with that, “Waterloo/Promise to love you for ever more”.
TRACE REGIONS: 10%
According to Ancestry, I have just a dash of Ireland [4%. I’ll take that], Finland/Russia [4%. but going to 100% Russian if Putin has his way], Iberian Peninsula [1%. I do like some Spanish tapas once in a while] and Western Europe [Less than 1%. Not much French or German here].
WEST ASIA: <1%
All of that <1% apparently comes from the Caucasus region, which includes parts of
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Aside from checking out the Bosporus and Istanbul, I can’t say this area is on my tour itinerary any time soon.
So now I know. A big piece order of English fish and chips, a side of Ikea meatballs and a cup of Turkish coffee. Wrap it all up in the Stars and Stripes, and that’s what I am. My daughters will get some of that, along with the international mix that is my wife. She has Swiss, Hawaiian, Irish and whole bunch of other stuff that makes her up. Throw it all together, and our kids are served with what might be called quite family stew, but which I prefer to call an awesome chowder.