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From The Back Pew:

Discovering one’s family history

January 23, 2010|By Michael Arvizu

This past weekend I had the privilege of visiting my godparents in the lovely, snow-covered hillsides of Elberta Village in northwest Michigan, on the shores of Lake Michigan.

On my way home Tuesday, I could not help but wince at the Los Angeles weather radar being shown on Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s many flight status monitors. It was at that point that I realized how much I would prefer staying in the great northern country a little longer. Give me cold weather any time, minus the raindrops pelting me.

I arranged my visit in part because it had been a while since I found myself in some nice powder, the prospect of going ice fishing with a cousin, and also to enjoy the company of family — however brief.

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Up to about my first year of college, I never considered family to be “important.” Over the years, however, I’ve come to realize that family is all we’ve got in the long run.

A couple of Sundays ago the church celebrated the feast of the Holy Family. This feast typically falls after the fourth Sunday of Advent and after Christmas itself. The feast is a celebration of the new family that is celebrated each Christmas, comprising Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

The feast of the Holy Family can be viewed from many angles, not the least of which is unity, and a devotion to always place your family first.

A few months ago, I wrote in this column how I perceived an acquaintance’s death, and how that death made me realize how precious our time here is. While that statement may seem corny, it’s true.

In less than five years I’ve witnessed the death of a grandmother, aunt and great uncle — in that order. I never made an effort to reunite with them.

And I regret that I will never be able to sit down with them again and ask about their times as younger people.

Matriarchs and patriarchs are such valuable encyclopedias, filled with knowledge and surprises at every turn. Thus, I made the decision long ago that if I am unable to speak to my family’s particular leaders, I should embrace the family members I have at my disposal and immerse myself in as much history as I can.

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