Our trip to Finland where we will get to meet our Finnish relatives (eek so excited!) is coming up in just a week. I can’t believe it is almost here! In preparation for the trip, this past weekend I took a little walk back in time through old pictures, letters, documents, and family stories. My family went to visit Teravainen relatives that live in New Hampshire who hold all the family history documents. We wanted to see what they had and decide what to bring with us to Finland.
It was a blast getting together, chit chatting and catching up. We were treated to rounds of delicious food peppered with family lore and stories. There were several things I learned about our family that I never knew before.
My mums cousin Dennis, who is quite the family historian, shared with us a treasure trove of family goodies. One thing was a letter my great grandmother wrote in Finnish to her sister-in-law that he had translated. It was amazing to see my great grandmother’s flowing, cursive handwriting. Here was a glimps of a woman I had heard only a little about growing up. What was even more amazing was that Dennis had met my great grandmother when he was little. She had passed away before my mother was born, and so the limited information I knew about her were snipits from my grandfather. Listening to his recollections of Grandma Terry (short for Teravainen) held me captive.
Dennis also told us about the Finlandia Foundation in Boston, which is an organization for Finns or people with Finnish heritage living in the States. Definitely something to look into.
After a fabulous dinner it was time for some of the older family documents. I don’t know what I was more excited for, old pictures of family members or the Teravainen family tree that dates back to the 1600s.
First were the pictures. There were pictures of my grandfather and his seven siblings and their families, pictures from my grandparents summer camp: Camp T, and family photos of relatives from Finland and Australia. But my favorite photos were of my Great Grandmother Terry (Wilemena). All I had seen of her was a wedding photo to my great grandfather Jakko. Standing tall, slim and graceful in her white dress she looked like a typical bride. The couple of candid photos Dennis shared with us gave me a whole new perspective on this woman. No longer a blushing bride, she stood stout and strong all 6 feet of her, on the side porch, surveying the yard. When the picture was taken in 1944 she had been raising her eight kids on her own for almost twenty years after her husband passed away. She was such a remarkable woman.
To end the evening we took out the Teravainen family tree. I had heard about the family tree but it was a sight to behold in person. Since the tree dates back so far it had to be printed on special, extra large paper. When unfolded it took up almost the entire kitchen table. It was fun tracing our roots and finding familiar names on the tree. This summer when we go over to Finland, we will share updated family history so we can add it to the already extensive list of relatives.
It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day. I find family history fascinating and I can’t wait to get to Finland to learn more about our family! What are your thoughts? Do you know a lot about your own family? Are you interested in family history?