January 07, 2013


Time for our annual--
French-Canadian’s New Year’s Resolutions

Apparently many of our Québécois ancestors in the past made New Year’s resolutions along the following lines. Alors, they did it to confuse and confound us later researchers of family information:

1. No man is truly well-educated unless he learns to spell his name at least three different ways within the same document. I resolve to give the appearance of being extremely well-educated in the coming year.

2. I will also be totally inconsistent in the use of my “dit” name.

3. I resolve to see to it that all of my children will have the same given names that my ancestors and cousins have used for six generations in a row.

4. My age is no one's business but my own. I hereby resolve to never list the same age or birth year twice on any document.

5. I resolve to have each of my children baptized in a different church or in a different parish. Every third child will not be baptized at all or will be baptized by an itinerant missionary who keeps no records.

6. If a child should die, I will give the next child born the same name. Also, girls will all be named Marie-something. Marie-Josèphe and Joseph-Marie will be good names for my children.

7. I resolve that if my beloved wife Marie-Catherine should die, I will marry another Marie-Catherine. I will see that she write her name as Marie, Marie-Catherine, Catherine, and Catherine-Marie in different documents.

8. I will name all the children of my second marriage with the same names as the children of my first marriage. Thus, for instance, each Jean-Baptiste will have several brothers and half-brothers as well as cousins and other relatives, plus moi, named Jean-Baptiste, all with the same surname. Again, I will see that they all be inconsistent in the use of a “dit” name.)

9. I resolve to give each of my children at least five first names--i.e. Jean Pierre Miguel Télesphore Antoine, and encourage them use a different name or names for baptism, confirmation, marriage and death.

10. If I emigrate to the U.S. I resolve to move to a new town, new county, or new state at least once every 10 years—just before those pesky census enumerators come around asking silly questions.

11. I will make every attempt to reside in counties and towns where no vital records are maintained or where the courthouse burns down every few years.

12. I will join an obscure religious cult that does not believe in record keeping or in participating in military service.

13. If a census enumerator does come to my door, I will loan him my pen, which has been dipped in rapidly fading blue ink. I will also find that I can only guess at my children’s ages—and even their names.

14. I will not take pictures of the family. If I do, I will not identify the people in the photos. If anyone does not know who the people are, they have no business nosing through the album.

15. I will not make a will. Sacré bleu—who needs to spend money on a lawyer?

16. I resolve that if my family emigrates to still another country, some of us will use our original surname, some will use the “dit” name only, some will use both, and some will choose another surname, totally unrelated.

17. Finally, I resolve that when I die, my tombstone will be made of soft stone with shallow engraving so that it will be sure to weather away as quickly as possible and become ILLEGIBLE. This will be done to confuse cemetery transcribers and force them to list my grave as UNKNOWN.

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