On the surface there doesn't seem to be much similarity between my husband and me and our backgrounds. He's a Colorado boy, son of a farmer with roots firmly anchored in one place, eastern Colorado. I, on the other hand, grew up in Illinois and moved from place to place throughout my childhood, rarely attending the same school two years in a row. But we do have one interesting thing in common - both of us had mothers whose maiden name was Smith.
We have never found that we have a common ancestor in the Smith lines, so it's not like we're cousins. His Smiths are from Oklahoma and Texas whereas mine are from Illinois and Kentucky. But we have discovered that both of our Smith families were the objects of scorn and put-down by their spouses.
Bob grew up hearing his father cast aspersions on his wife's family, criticizing their lifestyle of coffee drinking, card playing, and cigarette smoking. Despite his dad's attitude, Bob says his experiences with the Smith clan were always happy times and that they were fun people to be with, loved to tell jokes and laughed a lot.
My dad was also critical of his Smith in-laws, finding fault with each and every one of them. I really think Dad's hostility stemmed from his jealousy of my mother's love for her Smith family. Dad made fun of the Smiths and made them the butt of his jokes, trying to elevate his own status in the process, but I know he loved them dearly, as did each of us four kids.
So we have a little private joke between us, Bob and I, a way of acknowledging the similarity in what we heard around the dinner table as we were growing up - "those damned Smiths!" says it all.