This week, my Thankful Thursday post may seem a bit obvious to any genealogist, but over the past week, I was reminded of why I started doing genealogy in the first place, and I am extremely grateful for the reminder. What I am most thankful for this Thursday is quite simply….family.
I think that as genealogists, we sometimes get lost in the hunt and forget what it was that prompted us to start tracing our family tree in the first place. I know I did. Let’s face it – few, if any, of us started doing genealogy because we like digging through libraries, hunting down courthouse records, walking through cemeteries or spending hours on the computer doing searches for information. For many people, myself included, the genealogy bug starts because we want to know where we came from. It may be because we want to know for ourselves, or possibly for our children, and often because we want to share with other family members.
The spark that got me started on tracing my family history was three-fold. The first was that I wanted to know where I came from and who my ancestors were. I never really knew any of my grandparents other than my maternal grandmother, and she died when I was very young. To me, finding out who those people were and where my roots were was a way to gain what I had missed out on. The second and third reasons were intertwined with the first – I wanted to share that knowledge with my children and share that knowledge with other family members.
Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of those reasons for doing genealogy research. My research became about getting facts, putting the facts together and taking one more step backwards. Sure, I was gaining the knowledge for myself, but I was losing sight of the other two reasons. I had stopped sharing what I was finding. I was reminded of that this past week and I realized that I have gained an incredible wealth of knowledge about who my ancestors were, but that knowledge is nothing more than dead facts if I’m not sharing it with those who are closest to me. It hit me square between the eyes that if it weren’t for my family, this would all be for naught. I would have lots of facts, dates, names, etc, but I would have no one to share the stories with in a meaningful way.
I encourage other researchers to look back to when you first started tracing your family tree. Remember why you started, and take a moment to be thankful for whatever it was that started you on this crazy journey. I know I have, and I am incredibly thankful that I have my family to share it all with.