Nurture and nature — both make us the people that we are. When I started taking a little time to really think about the people I come from, more things in my life make a lot more sense!
I know where I get my love of sports, my passion for good food and digging in the dirt — or do I?
It’s the old “nature vs. nurture” question. Do I like good food because I grew up eating it? Or do I like good food because generations of my people were really good cooks and loved to eat? Do I like digging in the dirt, otherwise known as gardening, because I come from a long line of farmers? Or do I just like digging in the dirt because I had wonderful experiences with other gardeners in my life? Oh, I guess it really doesn’t matter but it is interesting.
A Heritage of Lace
In nearly every room in my house I have lace curtains. Now this is not nurture. My mama has never had lace curtains in her home. I kind of figured it out while working on my genealogy. It turns out most of my people came from Ireland or England. I do believe both are quite fond of lace curtains. Again, it’s kind of a silly thing to consider, but I still find it interesting.
When I look at my fingers, I know those squared off stubs are inherited naturally. My daddy has squared-off stubs, his daddy had the same. I come by them naturally along with big ears and dimples. They must be dominating genes that cause the “phenomenon” because my first born grandson has the same ears, eyes and dimples that my daddy has. Sorry Punk for the big ears!
What have you inherited by nurture and what have you come by from nature?
It’s kind of odd but I started looking for family similarities in myself at a young age. Since I’m an only child, I think I wanted to make sure I wasn’t adopted. In my kindergarten class one day, the teacher asked us to draw and color pictures of our parents. When she looked at mine, a funny look came over her face. I’m really not sure why I remember this incident so vividly.
“You colored your daddy’s hair black and his eyes blue,” she said. “That can’t be right.”
Just about that time school let out and my mama came to pick me up. The teacher was still looking at my drawing and told my mama I must have got the drawing of my daddy wrong.
“No,” my mama said. “She got it just right.”
The Roots of Our Genes
So where did my daddy get those blue eyes and black hair? Well, recently I found a long lost great-granddaddy in my search for “roots.” His name is John Jake Smith and the similarities to my daddy are remarkable, including the light blue eyes and black hair. It turns out John Jake Smith was half Choctaw and half Irish. This also explains why I’ve always loved anything to do with Native Americans. I just had to have a bow and arrow one Christmas, and I devoured book after book about native people and how their lives were changed by the “white man.”
I guess physical features can be understood as “nature,” but other strong traits in our lives aren’t as clearly traced to the source. I hope the things I love have come from the incredible nurturing I’ve received from my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I hate how my big ears and stubby fingers look, but at the same time I’m proud of them because I love the people I got them from. Perhaps if we could look at aspects of our lives in the same way — accepting the “bad” and relishing the “good” — we might just be a lot happier people.