Who do you think I am?
by Lori Tessel
One of my favorite shows on television right now is Who Do You Think You Are? To watch individuals look deep into their family history unsure of what will be revealed has been both enjoyable and inspirational. Each episode tells the story of a celebrity who has a particular question about their ancestors. What I love most is the celebrity’s emotional reaction and surprise, when secrets from the past give him or her a new perspective on their present. Here are some of my favorite moments:
In season 1, Emmitt Smith looks into his family’s roots and finds links to white ancestors deep in the south. What he also finds are his family’s slavery registry in a book numbered 22, which is the number he wore on his football jersey.
In season 2, Rashida Jones – Having already been made aware of her father’s family history, Rashida explores her mother’s Jewish family history which included family loss during World War II. What moved me so much about this episode was Rashida’s own realization that she is incredibly blessed and lucky to be alive. Both family histories include great sadness and stories of survival. Her families (on either side) could have been among those who had been killed, either because of the color of their skin or their religious beliefs.
In season 3, Christina Applegate delves into her father’s mysterious family history and uncovers the truth about his parents. Despite his difficult childhood, he created the family bonds that he missed growing up. Christina’s search heals her father and as the show ends, I cry with them and understand her father’s release of the old stories. It is a beautiful and powerful moment as Christina and her father visit the grave of the mother he never knew. Even at his age, having new information and having the opportunity to say goodbye is a lesson for us all.
Thank you Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky for such a wonderful show. This program has encouraged me to look at my own family history and the legacy that I want to create for my children. Each moment impacts another and while I may not be able to find out more about my own ancestry, I realize that one day, I hope my great great grandchildren will do some research about their ancestry to find that their great great grandmother was a little interesting and made a difference in the community. Wouldn’t that be amazing!Tags: Christina Applegate, Dan Bucatinsky, Emmitt Smith, Hollywood, Impact and influence of television on society, Lisa Kudrow, Lori Tessel, Rashida Jones, Tracing famly history, Who Do You Think You Are?