Every year, my immediate family participates in our own version of Secret Santa. We each get a piece of paper with three empty lines for us to write our top three wants for gifts. We draw names around Thanksgiving and have a $50 limit.
It’s a nice way to ensure that we don’t go crazy trying buy gifts for everyone and it also ensures that we actually receive something we want.
I wrote down (and crossed out) a few trivial items - boots, makeup, clothes - and eventually rewrote two of them. But, for the other, I wrote down the 23andMe.com DNA kit.
For years, I’ve wanted to know my heritage. As a family, we can trace our ancestry back to the farm my great-grandfather grew up on in Shreveport, Louisiana but that’s as far back as our records go. I wanted to know which country we stemmed from and if the rumors about our great-grandmother being part Native American were true. (Spoiler alert: they were!)
When we finally held our gift exchange, I was really excited to open my gift. They were a pair of boots, which was equally as exciting though not my top choice. I would later find out that my husband had already purchased the kit for me! The instructions are extremely simple and printed clearly and distinctly on the package. (Kudos to the developers!) After I took note of the special ID listed on my tube, I placed it in the postage paid package and mailed it off.
Almost a week later, I received an email saying that the scientists at 23andMe received my specimen and were working on my ancestry and health kit. I was joyous because I felt like I was one step closer to a hidden piece of my family. Growing up, I’d been the topic of conversation mainly because of my mocha complexion and distinctly long and wavy hair. Others would say, “No, you’re not Black. Your hair’s too straight.” Or, “Has anyone ever told you you look mixed?”
At the time, I took their comments as compliments because I’d already conditioned myself to believe that there was something negative about being Black. (I don’t think that anymore, thank God.)
Well, after a months time, the results came in and I officially know my heritage! I’m 84% West African, 14% Scandinavian, 1% Native American and 1% unidentified. (The unidentified portion is a bit puzzling to me, too.)
I’m elated to know that I’m West African because I didn’t know for so long! But, I can’t help but question from which country does my family line stem? Am I Ghanaian or Senegalese? Or from one of the other several countries?
A friend suggested I do ancestry.com’s test to get a more detailed summary. I might just take her up on the idea!
Until then, the search continues!