One of my favorite things about being born into a family with Amish-Mennonite roots is the deep appreciation of family history and belonging which you are given. As a young child with Anabaptist ancestors, you quickly learn there are two things of great importance.
Lesson one – your family genealogy. My father is a brilliant steward of our family’s history and stories. One year he purchased the most recent edition of something we call “The Fisher Book”. (A record with thousands of Amish-Mennonite relatives.) My little brother was so excited to find his name in the new printing of the “Fisher Book” that he circled the text in dark black ink – not something you typically do in a very expensive and significant ancestral document. I’m sure someday his descendants will enjoy seeing the mark he made on history!
After you gain a basic understanding of your family line, you learn a second critical skill – how to play the Mennonite game. This quote explains the activity nicely.
The goal of this game is to see how quickly two Mennonites, meeting each other for the first time can get to know each other’s family ancestry and establish how many of each other’s relatives they know. While some participants may play this game reluctantly due to peer pressure, others seem to play for the sheer fun and challenge of it. In any case participants likely believe that knowing something of another person’s familial ancestry helps to understand that person better. – Bruno Dyck
When two people of Amish-Mennonite descent meet, this phenomenon never fails to surface. I don’t often have the opportunity to play it as I’ve lived in Texas (which is well outside of “Amish country”) for most of my life. But I love brushing up on my skills any time I’m around someone who may be related to me.
I’m closing this post with a video that sums up the Mennonite game perfectly. It may not be particularly interesting if you have no experience with Amish or Mennonite culture. But if in fact you do know about this “game”, I can assure you that you’ll be laughing in a matter of seconds.