The Unending Frustration of Making a Family Tree

About two months ago, I had the idea for my sister's birthday to paint her a family tree. She had done a bit of genealogy digging for a class project many years ago- so I had that info; and my mom's cousin is super into tracing her roots, so I knew I had info on my mom's maternal branch to work with. Despite that, we didn't have much info on my dad's side, but then again, I have the internet. Finding the information was pretty easy (it may be wrong, but whatever), and truly fascinating. For one, it's disappointing that lady records are far foggier than male ones. Since women took (and today still) take the surname of their husbands, they tend to disappear in records or be really hard to track down without their maiden names. On my dad's side two of the ladies proved impossible to figure out beyond their married surnames. 

Also, I learned the bananas and fascinating Scandinavian tradition of patronymic surnames. If you're like me, you never heard that word. It basically means that when a baby was born, the parents would use the father's given name along with the suffix of -sson or -datter as the surname (depending if it was a boy or a girl.) So, my last name being Julson means that down the road on my father's Norwegian side, there was a dad named Jules and when he had a boy he was named (first name) Julson (as in Jule's son). When that tradition stopped in the late 1800's, Julson stuck; otherwise, to follow that tradition, I'd be Nancy Gordondatter or some such thing (here's to some traditions dying out.)

I also learned that my mother's father's father's mother was called Apollonia Himlspach, whose birthplace is listed as Budapest, though it may have been a surrounding village. I literally thought Prince made the name Apollonia up for Purple Rain- so that was fascinating! There's also a fella on my mom's mom's side called Valentine. Can you even imagine a man called Valentine? Or even cuter, a little boy?

Anyway, it turned out that visually representing what I found was way harder than finding the information in the first place. I basically fell into a weekend-long rabbit hole of which I emerged with nothing giftable or to be excited about. I started with a retro Pyrex-inspired leaf patterned tree, varied colors and sizes and configurations... then I quit in a fit of frustration, took a shower, and came out stoked on a geometric solve. My rationale was that these leaves were bumming me out. The shapes were too hard to work with, and the whole thing felt hokey. A geometric take on this would be modern, cooler, easier to configure and basically, i would revolutionize family trees as we know them. 

After about a half dozen triangle configuration attempts, some of which looked way too Space Invaders, I threw the towel in- but really only because by then it was Monday and I had to go back to work. I came up with a few options that I don't mind, but I gave my sister a wine corker for her birthday, and threw these in a drawer. However, now that I revisited them for this post, I'm thinking hexagons could work... 

The point is that sometimes you sit down and put pen (marker, paint, etc) to paper and come out with something fantastic that you're excited to share. Other times you follow your inspiration and make 10 family trees, only to realize that maybe family trees don't need revolutionizing at all. Having said that, I may go try hexagons.