Thankfulness Recipe

Sometimes I talk to myself, and truth be told, I answer myself too. Often my own questions and research are what provide the foundation for my articles that I share with readers. Today, I’m talking to myself once again, and you’re invited to eavesdrop.

Thanksgiving is about thankfulness. Really, it’s not about turkey, pie or the football😊 I know, that’s hard to digest. Pardon the pun.

As we age, sometimes holidays become very bittersweet. The pain of loss is intermixed with the thankfulness, and from time to time, that pain is overwhelming and swamps everything else. It’s sometimes hard to be thankful, so I need memory-joggers – hence talking to myself.

We all experience these type of life events, because the human state is not static. We are born, live and die. If we are born, the only question left is the duration of the other two. And, how we decide to live for the time we have on earth.

I’m sharing my own personal thankfulness recipe, because Lord knows sometimes I need to be reminded. In no particular order. Mix, serve and repeat as necessary.

Feel free to improve this “recipe” by substituting or adding your own ingredients.

Thankfulness Recipe

  • I’m thankful for my cousins that I’ve met through genealogy, because they far, far outnumber my immediate family that has dwindled to only a few.
  • I’m super thankful for all of the cousins who have agreed to DNA test. None of us can do this alone. Thank each and every one of you!
  • I’m grateful for social media to connect us, even though that same platform has been used to manipulate people as well. I hope I, we, are all smarter now and evaluate everything from every source for accuracy. I’d hate to lose social media as a connection mechanism because it has so much positive to offer.
  • I’m thankful that I can shop on the internet and don’t have to enter any store or drive anyplace close to any mall on Black Friday!
  • I’m thankful for my fur family, who is always here for me – even though their lives are proportionally shorter and their crossing the rainbow bridge is excruciatingly painful for their humans left behind. I hope I’ve enriched their lives as much as they’ve enriched mine. (Confession – I have funerals and write “obituaries” for my fur family. It helps – a little.)
  • I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve enjoyed. Yes, I’ve worked hard to be “available” for those opportunities to appear, so I won’t call them “luck,“ but sometimes being in the right place at the right time eclipses everything else. Call it synchronicity, fate, whatever – I’m grateful.
  • I’m thankful for my genealogy and DNA friends who have helped me immeasurably over the years. You know who you are.
  • I’m incredibly thankful for Chris and Tom, two men who reached out to me through my blog years ago and have shepherded me unflaggingly through my German lineage. I’d be lost without them. They are now among my fast friends.
  • I’m thankful for my home, and that it still stands, unlike so many in California and elsewhere. Makes me feel guilty for the fact that I hate cleaning it.
  • I’m thankful that I’m in a position where I can make “care quilts” for others, not need one for myself. And for my quilt sisters who work as a team in this endeavor. And that I can express love in such a tangible way.
  • I’m thankful for the physicians, nurses and support staff that work hard and study initially for years, plus incessantly for their entire careers to provide medical care that enables us to escape the grim reaper that gathered our ancestors far too early.
  • I’m thankful for every year that I continue to be healthy, or at least healthy enough to do what I love. When I can’t do that any longer, I want to join the ancestors and the fur family across the rainbow bridge. Family, take note!
  • I’m thankful for genealogical DNA testing that has allowed us to piece our disparate families back together again and to Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan for founding this industry 18 years ago. Really, we are all one family – it’s only a matter of distance and degree.
  • I’m thankful that my ancestors were my ancestors, even those who I really can’t embrace personally (one probably murdered his wife), because without each and every one of them, I wouldn’t be here, or wouldn’t be me.
  • I’m thankful to be able to identify the DNA I carry of each ancestor. This confirmation process helps me bond with each ancestor personally. I cherish the chase of discovery and documenting their lives as best we can from a distance. I’m still awed by the fact that the clues to their identity are held within me and their other descendants. The life journey I’ve taken as a result of chasing them is amazing indeed – movie worthy!
  • I’m thankful to my mother for her many sacrifices that I never understood until I was an adult. I’m correspondingly sorry for being a shit (yes, I was), but perhaps that tenaciousness ultimately served me well. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
  • I’m also incredibly, INCREDIBLY grateful that Mom DNA tested before she left us. I thank her for this every single day.
  • I’m thankful to my father but I’m not exactly sure why. He was quite the wild child, but he also had a hole in his soul not of his own making that he spent his entire life trying to patch. I’m working on this one.
  • I’m thankful that I have the ability and willingness to learn and change and that much of the “normalcy” of the time and place in which I grew up came to serve as an example of what I oppose, not embrace.
  • I’m thankful that I’m not too stubborn to admit when I’m wrong, because you can’t change directions until you admit that you’re lost. This one took awhile, trust me😊
  • In an odd way, I’m thankful to the people and circumstances that have made me miserable (but not too miserable), because they, retrospectively, became learning tools and catalysts of change, enabling me to grow and mature personally. (This is a tough thing to be thankful for.)
  • I’m thankful for my step-father, who I met too late, loved with all my heart, and who left too soon. His quiet steadfast example and Hoosierisms have served as my guiding light for many years. “Never mud-wrestle with a pig. You get muddy, the pig enjoys it and the spectators can’t tell the difference.” Many of his sayings were much more colorful and I smile every time I recall them😊
  • I’m thankful that I learned what racism and discrimination (of all types) were in an era and place where I’m not condemned to suffer the full effects of either. My heart breaks for people that suffer so unfairly. In my step-father’s words, “I don’t care if he’s purple, as long as he’s good to my daughter.” I hope to see the demise of the weaponization of human differences within my lifetime.
  • I’m thankful for my brother Dave who turned out not to be my brother, who I met as an adult, who loved me by choice and in sharp contrast to other biological family members who did not. He taught me a lot about the definition of unconditional love.
  • I’m thankful for my husband in spite of the fact that he sometimes exasperates me terribly, and because he bakes me the panettone bread that I love – from scratch. I’ve come to recognize that there are different ways to say “I love you,” many of which we may not recognize as such. (I think I’ll tape this up on the mirror so I can remember this when I really need it😉)
  • I’m thankful that I’ve learned how, when and where to draw the line to eliminate toxic people from my life. My gut knows even when my head doesn’t. When it’s time to walk away, it’s time to walk away.
  • I’m thankful for my family and “family of heart” who over the years have stepped up to the plate when there was nothing in it for them. That’s the measure of true love.
  • I’m thankful for my son-in-law who took care of me when I was ill and couldn’t take care of myself.
  • I’m thankful for my grandchildren, both human and canine, and every minute I get to spend with them.
  • I’m thankful for my daughter-in-law who I’ve been fortunate enough to come to know as a friend over the years. It takes a strong woman to deal with the rest of us!
  • I’m thankful for second chances – for everyone (except for the Charles Manson level ilk). Second chances arrive in the form of addiction support groups, surgery, treatment, divorce, returning to school, life-changing decisions, etc.
  • I’m thankful to my children for becoming such fine adults, in spite of the fact that when they were teens I wondered if any of us would survive and if I would ever receive the gift of being this thankful. I’m immensely proud of both of them. Both are amazing in such different ways and I swell with pride to see the mark they are  leaving on this earth and humanity. Sorry for the brag on them. I can’t help myself. Our children are our lasting legacy, one way or another.
  • But mostly, this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that a decades-long rift within my family seems to be healing. Sometimes love can be entirely masked by pain, and isolation becomes a reinforcing form of self-defense. Risk, reaching out, makes people vulnerable to rejection and pain. I’m so very grateful that this healing appears to be happening before my funeral. Fingers crossed – about the rift closing of course, not the funeral.
  • Last, but not least, I’m thankful to all of you for the time you allow me into your lives. I hope you are having a wonderful time with your family and friends – or that you’re blissfully buried in your genealogy. Better yet, maybe these two things are one and the same.

Happy Thanksgiving!



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44 thoughts on “Thankfulness Recipe

  1. I flip through and quickly discard many things in my email “in-box” but I always read your column. I read it for information and for insight, but mostly I read it for your incredible grasp of so many things that are important to me—humility, truth, honesty, hope. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for your kindness, Roberta and for so much info that you have sent into our lives about life and so much more. I do have some kind of link to your family possibly re the DNA Haplogroup that I mentioned the other day possibly creating links to our families. I need to do some more digging to find out things for certain. I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving and a wonderful and fulfilling Christmas Season also. Sincere Best Wishes for all the best in the future. Paul Morris Hilton

  3. Thank you, Roberta, for all your wonderful articles and research. I can’t imagine doing genetic research without your blog.

    I hope you have a very pleasant and enjoyable Holiday.

  4. Happy Thanksgiving, Roberta. You are one of the many people I’m thankful for. I’ve learned a lot from your insightful and educational writing.

  5. Thank-you so much for your candour in sharing the very personal things you’re thankful for. My family history research has been much enriched by reading your blog, so I give thanks to you!

    That leaves me to wish you a very warm and happy Thanksgiving from here in England.

  6. Thank you precious ROBERTA for sharing all the wonderful things you acknowledge today! I am proud to be from the ESTES line with you; and I have so much more to learn/research/know; but like you, I am ever so proud to know that so many things I was told turned out to be true. But even more so, I am discovering so many, many more ancestors as I slowly walk down the paths of data and DNA revelations. Happy Thanksgiving and God’s blessings and peace wished for you tomorrow, and throughout the life! Love, Sue

  7. I am thankful for you, Roberta, for being generous, kind-hearted, and loving. I am thankful that you are a confidant and a friend. A highlight of 2018 for me was the day we met at that Cracker Barrel. I am thankful that you were willing to spend a little more time here in Indiana that day. It’s not often you meet someone you can call family who isn’t family, and a friend who you’ve known a short time but seems like forever. Happy Thanksgiving. 🍁

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I’m so glad I stayed that extra time and we went in our adventure together. It didn’t end there!

  8. Like others I read everything you write, and can never thank you enough for everything you have done for the genetic genealogy community. Happy Thanksgiving and Life!

  9. I’m thankful for you. I learn something in every one of your blogs. I am also a very distant ‘Kin’s of yours, I believe, and that is good. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!
    Donna Jones Hernandez

  10. Roberta,
    I m very thankful for your blog, You keep us updated on all the important DNA topics, issues and changes. I am thankful for tis Thanksgiving post. It is just what I need to cheer me up this Thanksgiving.
    Someone above mentioned heading your book, Book. I didn’t know, What book and where can we get a copy,,,
    Happy Thanksgiving, Roberta,

  11. Roberta, I am so thankful that we met many years ago! Our experiences together are priceless. As a recipient of one of your care quilts (well, two & Ronnie’s), I often wonder how you manage to do so much! You are a marvel, and I am proud to know you! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  12. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Roberta 🙂 !

    My Thanksgiving “thank you” this evening is for your care n share blog :
    I’m a newbie to genetics and Its always a special treat to find your new blog posts in my email box, like your other readers mentioned above 🙂 .
    I’m quiet, often in awe, and at times overwhelmed with the amazing life and lives in my genetic ancestry that your blog has led me to uncover and enjoy!

    I’m a quiet reader but I’m always thinking “thank you!” when I finish reading each blog.
    THANK YOU for sharing 🙂 !

  13. What a lovely and thoughtful blog; we don’t often think about what we have to be thankful for. I’m always amazed at how much you are able to fit into your blog and it’s all very informative.

  14. And Roberta, I am thankful for you! Your blog has been my go to for the latest and greatest! You are awesome!

  15. See how far behind I am–I just read the Thanksgiving blog and can honestly say it took my breath away. There is something in it for every one of us. Thank you so much.

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