A random scroll-past of something in my Google Reader this morning made me wonder what my family tree would look like if I drew it up in Visio (new to the programme, liking the options...).

And then I got to thinking that my family tree is actually pretty complicated, and getting more so. Gone are the days of an actual tree structure in modern society - families these days are more likely to have vines!

How exactly does one depict married-in and "father absent" relatives in a family tree? Steps and side-steps, halfs and semis... with extended family added on for good measure. Sjoe!

Still, family trees are interesting things. Mine includes a couple of military men, sea-faring types, and at least one illegitimate one. We may have something to do with a village, or be descended from war-like ones and mountain tribes. We might have arrived in South Africa via a valley.

Many years ago my mother spoke to the ancients in our family (my grandmothers) and got as much family history out of them as possible, drawing up our family tree as she went. I have no idea what happened to that. Or whether she was able to unravel our "vine" too far back. There are those who have their family history down pat, know its in's and out's and can give you a detailed pedigree. Ours - well... we're here. How we got here is almost lost in time - but not quite.

A few years ago I was Googling along and found a distant relative in the USA. There aren't many of either family names I arrived from, so there's a connection somewhere. We exchanged a few emails, then lost touch again. My dad's side of the family we hardly ever see, my mom's side only a fragment more frequently.

But I guess that's how it goes in this day and age. Families scatter. Families change - and that tree turns creeper.

There's a lot more rambling I could do on this one, but I'll spare you today! :-) Suffice it to say the concept of family is pretty much fascinating once you start to dig into it. The concept of hereditary characteristics that pop up a few generations later even more so...

(nope, don't panic Favourite Man - there's nothing lurking in my genes that you need to worry about! :-) )