The Gratitude List

You know, I’m sneaking off from what I’m supposed to be doing, like laundry and getting ready for Rootstech, to quickly pen this note to everyone.


Because people are really amazing – including each of you, my faithful followers and genealogy addicts!

I’ve decided to create a gratitude list and tape it up right by my desk where it’s in plain site where I can see it.

Every. Single. Day.

Some days, I really need to see my gratitude list.

Everyone has things that go wrong, just about every day. In the past couple weeks, here’s the list of what I can think of, off the top of my head.

  • Furnace broke. Both need to be replaced. Probably AC unit too. Blah…
  • Garage door broke, in the middle of a storm no less.
  •  Water softener isn’t, which means I’m going to have slightly orange clothes.  Gets replaced Thursday.
  • Had to purchase new sewing machine. Old one succumbed to injuries from being forcibly ejected from dining room table. Has to do with a very excited rescued puppy.
  • Grass is growing in the perennial garden even though it’s only 43 degrees and the snow isn’t even entirely melted. I don’t even stand a fighting chance!
  • Ran sewing machine needle into the bone of my thumb beside my nail. Yes, I swore (and bled), a lot. No, this is not how the machine came to hit the floor.

Ok, I’ll stop.  You’re cringing – I can tell.

But that list is not what I want to focus on, because all told, it’s really just an inconvenience. It’s not terribly important, well except for that furnace issue in the middle of a Michigan winter. Here’s what is important. This list all happened while I was having my bad day(s):

  • My friend Tom is finding information for me to lookup at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City in order to further unravel my line of incredibly confusing ancestors from Steinwenden, Germany. He has been tirelessly translating German script, making new discoveries in places I didn’t even know to look. Nominate this man for sainthood.
  • My friend Chris who lives in Germany surprises me almost every day with something else he’s found about Steinwenden, or one of those unruly ancestors. This week, he found a history of an early cemetery that was “leveled” in the 1950s. I’m so lucky Chris found me. Chris and Tom are an awesome team.
  • My new cousins on the Melsheimer line (discovered thanks to Chris) are e-mailing me AND are penning an extensive genealogy. Oh, to verify that indeed, this IS my line. I look forward to getting to know my new cousins.
  • My cousin’s mitochondrial DNA full sequence upgrade came back. Her mtDNA line confirms my ancestor’s mother is Lydia Brown (c1790-1840/50) whose mother is only known by the first name of Phoebe. For a long time, there was some question as to who my ancestor’s mother was, and now we know. How cool is that!! Maybe her mtDNA will help find her mother’s family. New blog fodder! 
  • A lovely blog subscriber/distant cousin sent me such an amazing thank you note that it stopped me dead in my tracks and caused me to cry. Sometimes saying thank you is an incredibly powerful tool of love.
  • I met my brother’s amazing biological half-sister (now my sister of heart too) and she is testing at FTDNA to attempt to resolve the question positively of whether she is a half sister or first cousin to my brother. What a Valentine’s Day gift from *our* brother.
  •  A man in Hawkins Co., TN is helping me try to find the land of my Charles Campbell. (Dang those non-recorded deeds.) If this man can’t do it, it can’t be done. By the way, positive thoughts for this man and his family please – their home and farm was flooded last week. 
  • Someone I’ve never met in person sent me a surprise gift – a miniature quilt measuring in total 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches. From her deceased mother’s miniatures collection, no less. Wow. Just wow. I am so touched. The beautiful tiny quilt has taken up residence in my display case with my mother’s doll clothes from when she was a child.

  • My husband is bringing me Starbucks and food, as I type this. Bless this man!
  • I received a thank you note from a young recipient of a care quilt. My quilt sisters and I make care quilts, as we can, for those who need some sort of special care, encouragement, love or a hug. Few people say thank you, let alone write notes. (Some are simply too ill.) This young lady is amazing for all sorts of reasons! She is the bright face and hope of the future.

My gratitude list is a LOT longer than that other list-that-shall-not-be named.

Know what all of these positive things have in common?  Yep, you guessed it.  With the exception of my husband and quilt-sisters, I would never have met any of these amazing people were it not for genetic genealogy combined with my blog.

So, DNA test, contact your matches, share stories, write, create a family tree, blog (it’s free), get the word out. Do whatever it is you need to do, in your own way, but do it.

If you’re alive, it’s not too late! (If you’re dead already, please let me know because there are a few people on the other side that I’d like you to ask questions of on my behalf.)

Then, create your own gratitude list so that you forget all about that “other” list of what went wrong. Best yet, those people on your gratitude list will be among the first to step up and help you when that “other” list gets overwhelming. Especially if you’re on their gratitude list too.

My research, my care-quilt mission in cooperation with my amazing quilt-sisters, and my blogs are my own ways of making the day brighter for others – paying the love forward. (Yes, I have two other blogs, here and here.)

May each and every one of you be blessed with many cousins and family of heart, especially if your blood family is rather small. Most of all, may you have an extremely long gratitude list.

What and who is on yours?

Tell them and make their day!



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

28 thoughts on “The Gratitude List

  1. Thanks, Roberta. I love your lists — both of them. We are all the same, though we may have different lists.

    I suspect there is something amiss in the dates for Lydia Brown…??


  2. My daughter keeps a gratitude jar. She adds a slip of paper with a comment every day. And then she dumps the jar at the end of each year and reads everything that she wrote. What a way to keep perspective!

  3. My gratitude l ist is a book full. I have a good size ‘The Secret’ Book to write in. Helps me with my thank you’s on one side and the Gratitude on the other side!!

    The Lydia Brown thing… I have a Lydia Brown too, I’ll have to look it up! – A

  4. My daughter keeps a gratitude jar. Every day she writes what she’s grateful about on a slip of paper and puts it in the jar. At the end of the year, she dumps the jar and reads everything she wrote. What a way to keep perspective!

  5. Dear Roberta,

    Thank you so much for putting a huge smile on my face while working on business matters!!! Yes, I actually stopped to read your newest blog post in the midst of another project. I am guilty of distracting myself, but seem to do so when it is needed! I suppose one might refer to it as a “break!”

    I am thankful that my list of gratitude always outweighs that of the obstacles that come my way almost every day!

    I am very excited for all that is awaiting you at Roots Tech. Safe travels and I look forward to your shares from the event.


    P.S. OUCH! Yes, I cringed when reading about the sewing machine needle embedding itself into your finger. Hope it has healed well and that everything else will be running smoothly upon your return trip home!

  6. Am I the only deranged reader that was amused and laughing when others were cringing? I think the grass growing in the perennial garden was the feather that tickled my funny bone. I really need to be more attentive at the genealogist anonymous meetings in our church basement.

  7. I have had a wonderful gratitude – a friend and genealogy mentor died recently. Last week his widow called in a panic. She is being moved into assisted living and the children don’t want any of his 20+ years of Polish genealogy. She gave another genealogy maven and I his laptop to get all his online data and 3 large boxes of well organized records and files in binders.

    After a few very nervous hours while the laptop refused to boot, I was able to put his old FTM files on my current FTM and upload everything, including all his media files, to a new Ancestry tree. He had an old tree on Ancestry but we don’t have his password to update it. He had made some recent breakthroughs which are now included in the new tree. He wanted to share his data but not have anyone able to “edit” it. We will also be putting his GEDCOM on FamilySearch as a genealogy.

    We are working to find a home for all his files, possibly with a Polish Genealogy group. It’s not the kind of thing the LDS church is able to accept.

    We were given the gift of helping a dear friend and man who encouraged me so much when I first started in genealogy and when I first started presenting to our genealogy group..

  8. Really loved this column and also all the replies. I’ll certainly keep it and read it on all those days that crop up that seem to have nothing but horrible things happen all day.

    Read your reply about the Polish group in Detroit. Per chance, would you know if one exists in the Pittsburgh, PA area. Really at a stand-still trying to get more on my Polish maternal grandparents that both came from Poland — never had an interest in my roots until about 2 years ago; so, never had the opportunity to ask

    • I don’t, but google is your friend. Also, you might try to see if there are any Facebook groups or check the old Rootsweb lists. If they are Polish focused, then they might know of other resources.

  9. Thanks for this post, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the trying daily things and forget the wonderful things to be grateful for. You’re on my gratitude list, Roberta. I’ve learned so much from you here on this blog. It would be grand to be related to you. Enjoy RootsTech, you should be presenting or teaching there.

Leave a Reply