...even after 7 generations!
A while back I was having a discussion with a couple friends about the traits that our families valued. We all made our lists and then shared them with each other. One thing that surprised me very much was how different our lists were. My family values intelligence very highly; almost above almost all else (except religiosity, for most of them). We tend to believe things very passionately and then to argue for those beliefs almost to the point of alienation...and, unfortunately, sometimes beyond. Their families valued kindness and generosity and togetherness highly - traits that hadn't even crossed my mind to list as I thought about the concepts held in deep regard by my family.
Truthfully, the fact that I hadn't thought about those traits in connection with my family bothered me. My family can be very kind and generous and enjoy getting together a great deal, but those aren't values that are held up as primary or that distinguish us from others.
When I visited Pella and read descriptions of my gg-grandfather Gerrit and my ggg-grandfather Koonraad, written by one of their nephews in 1934, I realized that the traits I had listed are, indeed, traits that are valued in our family now and that have been valued in our family for many generations:
Koonraad was described as a man with a magnetic personality and a fearless and outspoken manner, a "militant" champion of all good causes who always had a large following. When young, he was involved primarily in "religious work and political controversy." Furthermore, he was apparently "fiery" and of an idealistic temperament, with advanced views and a keen mind, firm in his convictions.
His son Gerrit was described as kind and gentle, quiet and unassuming, with a keen sense of humor, BUT there was an "underlying firmness and argumentative make-up typical of DeJongh stock." He was also said to have a very keen mind, and "when aroused [he] was a skillful antagonist in controversy over religious and political topics."
Later, Gerrit's wife's family was described as "a very cultured and keen-minded old family of the Netherlands."
Obviously, being of a "keen mind" was highly regarded, and being wrapped up in religious and political arguments goes back many, many generations. I find it highly interesting...and rather ironic, but those traits could still be used to describe many members of our family today. There's a lot to be said for looking at a person's family!