Thinking about Newt? Ow, that hurts.

Newt Gingrich has me thinking about my ancestry. The stepping off point for that bit of randomness was his performance in last week's GOP debate on CNN. I watched it while in Wisconsin, where my family's roots were firmly set over 130 years ago thanks to the Homestead Act. All those people who live perfectly good lives without ever manifesting the troubling signs of political obsessive disorder surely missed it. Specifically, I'm pointing at when Newt waded into unusual waters for a GOP candidate by responding to a question about immigration with a measured embrace of amnesty for non-citizens. For my almost entirely Scandinavian family, it brought up something I now find fascinating that I'd never given much thought. I'm now aware that one of my grandmothers never became a citizen. It just wasn't that big of a deal way back when - especially since women couldn't vote prior to 1920. To up the ante of weirdness, I'm now focused upon the fact that the trippy little country she came from in Scandinavia ceased to exist in the late 1930s. Blame the Soviets, I think. Her husband naturalized, which was the norm to afford the benefits of citizenship to the whole family. Her kids were all born here. She lived into her 90s, and died in the 1980s surrounded by family and property. But in terms of our modern view of citizenship, she was effectively a woman without a country for most of her life. I'm still sussing this all out. I can't even find the country she came from listed anywhere to make sense of what citizenship she might have been able to claim. Say what you will about Newt. Loudly. I, for one, have never been a fan. Even though he married a former small-town girl from Sconnie on his third try at, um, lifelong party affiliation. But the guy's politics inspired me to take a new look at my own past. Now if you'll excuse me, I think my irony bladder just exploded.