On this Thanksgiving Day, I thought I'd take a minute to just list some of the genealogy-related things I'm thankful for this year. In no particular order, here they are.
1. Ellis Island records for my great- and great-great-grandmothers. I finally have a connection to Ellis Island, even if they did deport my ancestors.
2. Church records for my Joseph ancestors - I have learned so much going through these records, and still haven't finished mining them for everything they contain.
3. The SS-5 for my great-grandaunt Mary (Sitzman) Wagner. I totally didn't expect the request to go through (long story) but the SS-5 arrived in the mail this week after a lengthy 3-month wait. Now I have to puzzle over the fact that she gives her father's name as Chris Schmidt, when everything I've seen before named him John Schmidt.
4. Mom's excellent record storage methods. She has safely preserved many of my grandfather Tom Bergstad's records. Now that I have scans of them, they can stay in storage and stay preserved.
5. My ProGen class members. It's been such an education and pleasure to work with a group of people as passionate about genealogy as I am, and working together towards being able to do genealogy on a professional level.
6. Old family photographs, and the ancestors who took them. I've had more family photographs come out of the woodwork this year than I could possibly really analyze in several months. They really bring these names, dates, and places to life, and help me remember that they were flesh and blood people, with all the ups and downs and joys and disappointments of life.
7. The ability to not just understand my family's past, but to come to terms with the difficult parts of our past, and not just ignore them or gloss over them. I have found some skeletons in the family closet this year, which I shouldn't have been so surprised about since we all have them. But as learned about the difficult and sad parts of my ancestors' lives, instead of blaming them or getting angry or disappointed at them, I found myself feeling a compassion I didn't expect, an understanding that they were imperfect people who led imperfect lives. Yes, their actions had consequences for my family, but we've become a stronger family through those events. And now, I know we can get through difficult times, because we've done it before.
Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, past and present!!