Family life journeys, our own and those of our forebears, are inevitably accompanied by baggage. In the English language the term baggage firstly refers to bags and suitcases packed for travel, that is the material and cultural fabric of our lives that accompany us on our life journeys: objects, property, recipes, traditions, sayings, recollections. The second common meaning of the term implies the emotional baggage of life experiences, circumstances and relationships, both spoken and unspoken, which we all carry.
For many of us whose family stories hold great sadnesses and trauma or lacunae and absent persons, the emotional baggage is often what prompts us to research the lives of those family members who have impacted our own so strongly. Firstly in order to better understand what went on, why things happened, what caused people to be the way they were and are, and in turn, to better understand our own selves and direct our own life journeys.
Perhaps I can offer here instead of baggage the alternative analogy of luggage.
Luggage is still something that is carried around, it cannot simply be left in lost property or sent on the wrong flight, never to be seen again.
That said, the term luggage provides a subtle shift.
Luggage is still something that we have to take with us and it may be cumbersome or weighty, however we know its contents and it has its uses.
It is there for the journey and can be unpacked at the destination.
The subtle shift from carrying baggage to luggage is a useful analogy for the process of researching one’s family history or personal family story seen as a journey. There may be more than one destination en route, you may have to unpack several times along the journey, but each time the luggage is refined, perhaps items left behind and others added.
One thing is certain, the luggage contents will definitely not be the same at the end as at the beginning.
Hannah, historytrace, 14/01/2016
If something you have read has struck a chord with you, perhaps your family story has unanswered questions or persons who are absent from view, do get in touch with us using the Contact page of this website.
Historytrace can help you to explore historical sources which may be able to answer some of your questions or give you a better understanding of historical events and experiences of family members.
We also offer people tracing services for those who are looking for family members and birth families. We handle such family projects with discretion and sensitivity for both the searcher and searched.
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You have been reading the historytracings blogpost “Thursday Thoughts – Baggage or Luggage”. Copyright text and image www.historytrace.co.uk, 2015.