Cue the winter wonderland music; it's time for sending some holiday cheer.
I realize this is the time when most people who still hold to that Christmas-card-sending tradition get their Hallmark greetings ready to mail. But that's not the holiday I'm talking about today. I'm still basking in the afterglow of Thanksgiving. I've been sending messages, alright, but only because I want to keep connecting over the real gift I've received in the last month.
True, it's been a struggle over the past several months to piece together the real story of my father's ancestry. If you have been sticking with me as my research twisted this way, then that way, you know what I mean. Now that I've found the answer—well, at least come as close as I can to the truth—I realize there is one item yet to attend to: sharing my thanks with the people who made it possible to find an answer at all.
Of course, some of the thanks goes to those fellow genealogy enthusiasts who were willing to answer my messages and emails concerning details of their tree or my wild conjectures about possible connections. Most people find it hard to squeeze enough time out of their busy schedules to even research their own family history, let alone help someone else along the way, so I realize how generous their gesture of help really was.
But the main thanks goes to those who were willing to actually spring for a DNA test and share their results through one of the major services. People do have a choice, when purchasing a DNA test, whether to share the results with matches or to keep the results entirely private. Sharing helps others figure out their own research brick walls—especially those distant cousins who match just enough genetic material to point researchers in the direction of possible connections they might not have considered in the past.
In my case, I'm thankful for the dozen or more people who chose to test, whose shared results helped me find the truth about my paternal grandfather's origins. At first, it was a long wait, when no matching results showed up. I began to wonder whether my brother and I were the only ones in the world claiming our ancestral heritage.
That is not true, of course, but the several years' wait before matches showed up almost had us convinced otherwise. And that's where the thankfulness comes in. If it hadn't been for the unknown-to-us cousins who began testing almost two years ago, I still wouldn't have found the clues which led me to answers this year.
And so, while yes, it is high time to get ready for those December holidays, I'm still lingering over Thanksgiving. The turkey and dressing have all been polished off the platter, and the house is now primed for the next round of decorations, but I'm taking today to send some letters of thanks to some helpful DNA matches. I couldn't have discovered what I have without the help of some willing test-takers. After all, while we think we are testing for our own sakes, in doing so, we are generously helping those many cousins we have yet to meet, as well.