a family history in postage stamps

I spent all afternoon sifting through my Papa's stamp collection with my Dad. one of the great things about being at home - where I grew up- is that I have access to all this family history. my Dad has literally put together giant binders full of documents and clippings and photos. when I was thinking about this first post for blogtember and the idea of "where I come from" I had this grand scheme of digging through all that history to show you, quite literally, who and where I come from.

but I should probably also tell you that just last week Phyllis and I had a heart-to-heart about blogging. and I should probably also warn you that when and if I follow the prompts for blogtember, I'm going to take them more as an inspiration and interpret them in my own way that may not make sense to anyone but me.

so, the stamps. I never even knew they existed until last week when my Dad pulled them out to start sorting. the collection is one of the few physical things of value that my Papa - my Mother's Father- left when he passed away. and even though I didn't want to get sucked into my Dad's "project" I couldn't help it.

because the stamps are so interesting. because I kept recognizing names of places I've been, or places I want to go. because I saw names of countries I didn't recognize and I suddenly wanted to google them and find out where they were, or what they are called now. and... come on... Sun Yat-sen and Abraham Lincoln on a "Leaders of Democracy" stamp issued by the ROC [Taiwan] in 1959. how could I not get involved?

and so I sat and helped sort the stamps out by country. let me tell you, my knowledge from living in Asia came very much in handy. and the fact that Husband is a geography teacher and I've gleaned a little knowledge from him as well. that I can tell the difference between Spanish and French and Italian, was raised Lutheran enough to recognize German, my Mother-in-law lived in Pakistan, and when I was  ten I developed an obsession for all things Egyptian.

we couldn't decipher them all- like this awesome sword-wielding lion. but hey, I can't read Arabic. no one's perfect.

edit: huge thanks to reader Jenna who lives in the UAE and asked an Arabic-speaking friend to decode this stamp. apparently it is written in Farsi, not Arabic. the lion and the sun are symbols for the Persian Empire, which would be modern Iran. mystery solved!

but slowly the envelopes marked in my Grandfather's handwriting became covered in both mine and my Father's scrawl too.

and that, in a very roundabout way, is who I am and where I come from.

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