I came home from work on December 23rd ready to start the holiday season. I was looking forward to the next five days off, spending time with my family, and just relaxing. I sat down that evening to catch up on my all-important Facebook news, and came across a post indicating that it was National Roots Day. Here’s what the rest of the post said:
“National Roots Day encourages us to look into our heritage, families, family history and ancestry and as many people are gathering together at this time of the year, during the holidays, it is a good time to ask questions of other family members about ones roots. It is quite possible that a grandparent, parent, aunt or uncle has a family tree they could bring out to begin with.”
“It is often very interesting to learn about the lives of our ancestors; where they came from, their struggles, their accomplishments and etc. It is a combination of everyone that is on the family tree that makes us the person that we are today.”
As I pondered these words and the intended meaning of National Roots Day, it reminded me that those of us who are adopted don’t have the inalienable right to celebrate or even know about our own roots. Instead, secrets and lies prevail about our own lives in order to “protect” the world from the truth of who an adoptee’s biological parents are and, therefore, the keys to unlocking his or her genealogical and ancestral past.
While we can and will continue to engage in the age-old debate about nature vs. nurture, I believe there’s some truth to both. The last sentence of that Facebook post points out that the combination of everyone on the family tree makes us the person we are today. Unfortunately, we adoptees may never be able to fill in the missing pieces that will help us to answer the nature side of the equation.
As I looked into the history of National Roots Day further, I discovered a couple of interesting things. First, and unsurprisingly, there seems to be a “day” for everything. Most days of the year even have multiple celebrations associated with them. But there is no National Hide the Truth Day or National Secrets Day as one might expect with the level of so-called “protection” that most states still provide to biological parents at the expense of adoptees.
Second, it turns out that December 23rd is also the day that Festivus is celebrated. According to the Wikipedia entry on Festivus, it has been described as “the perfect secular theme for an all-inclusive December gathering.” Originally a family tradition of a Seinfeld scriptwriter, the holiday has certainly caught on and become fairly popular.
And while it is a parody of sorts, and its celebration is filled with the same dry humor that the sitcom that made it popular was so famous for, its all-inclusive nature seems to give it a leg up on its more serious companion celebratory day. In fact, when you throw in National Pfeffernusse Day, also celebrated on December 23rd, it can be reasonably argued that National Roots Day might actually come in a distant third in terms of its inclusiveness and sensitivity.