My roots

This morning, as I was going through my usual morning routine I noticed that my dad (Dr. Aaron Kelson) had written an article for one of the local papers in Virginia, MN.  The paper is called Hometown Focus and my dad writes for them periodically.  This article is called “Whod you think you are?”  My dad is quite a prolific writer and has a book on Lulu called “Greater Light: The Creation and the Potential of Man.” 

I say this not to advertise for my dad, but to show that I come from a long line of artists.  My grandfather, Robert Kelson, was a faithful writer and has some amazing memories and insights tucked away in his journal.  My Great-grandfather Beckner was a painter who painted equisite landscapes. 

I don’t get my artistry only from my dad’s side of the family. My maternal grandfather, Dr. James Fife, majored in French and minored in theatre.  He has a love of showtunes that is unequal to anybody else I know.  My mom is from Oklahoma and a Fife family get-together is not complete without someone bursting out singing “Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain!” at least once a day.  He also has quite the flair for production and wrote, produced, and directed a number of L.D.S. roadshows during his children’s youth.

My mom instilled in me the importance of music.  I’ve been playing the piano since I was about six years old, and at this point (after 17 years of playing) I would say that it’s a life-long addiction.  The opportunity I’ve had to learn about myself through my piano playing has been phenomenal.  One thing I’ve learned is that I (almost) never take the easy way out.  One of my earliest piano playing memories comes from one of my very first piano lessons.  I was plunking my way through “The Grandfather Clock” (not nearly as thrilling as it sounds) and my teacher asked me what I wanted to play for the recital at the end of the year.  I had been thinking about this for a while and I immediately knew my answer.  I flipped to the back of the book, pointed to the last song and said “I want to play this one.”  I will never forget how difficult it was to learn how to play “The Princess Waltz”, but I will also remember how gratifying it was to have my teacher say at the recital how proud she was of me for working so hard to learn how to play this song.  The fact that now I could probably play that song in my sleep is irrelevant.  The lessons learned is what is important (to me, anyway.)

One thing I really enjoy about having writers in my family is that whenever I read what they have to say (as in the case of my dad’s article above) I learn a little bit more about myself.  I believe that it’s impossible to simply take yourself at face value.  There’s a family memory that resides within your bones that influences you in so many ways.  Having grown up in an L.D.S. (Mormon) family, the importance of knowing your family history has been pressed upon me from an early age.  Knowing that the kingdom of Fife in Scotland is part of my family history makes me feel proud.  Being of dominant Danish heritage makes me feel properly ashamed that I don’t like fish very much (except for salmon, haha.)  Being 25% German helps me to understand my work ethic.  Being aware of the fact that my ancestors crossed the plains amongst significant persecution helps me to believe that I can do anything.

My family history influences me in ways that I can’t even begin to imagine.  How does your family experience influence you?

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One thought on “My roots”

  1. I have pretty varied roots in my ancestry, but if I was to single out individual nationalities to give them credit for quirks in my personality, I guess I’d say I get my urge for storytelling & singing songs that fit my mood from the strong bardic and ballad tradtions of the Scotch/Irish; my passionate & bohemian inclinations from the French; my refusal to believe that women can’t be leaders & my drive for independence from the matriarchal societies practiced by some tribes in my Native American Heritage, and my ability to keep a stiff upper lip (as well as a castle & coat of arms moldering in the family tree on my father’s side) from the British.

    I come by my love of history naturally, simply because I had a blast researching the different people, places, and nations where my family came from. Being able to look into your past and make a personal connection with events throughout history helps make it real, it brings home the fact History isn’t just letters and pictures in books–it involves real people, real events–and the effects of our lives and how we live can echo on for generations.

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