23 December 2012

Sentimental Sunday - Win, Lose, Win, Choose...

Well, here we all are, just a few days before Christmas. How did that happen? Am I the only one that thinks this year absolutely flew by!? At this time last year I was flying high from having visited Cincinnati, meeting my 2nd and 3rd cousins and getting my hands on (literally) family documents from the 1800s that I’d known existed but thought were probably gone forever.  I’d had the pleasure, and honor, of processing them so they were stabilized and described, and more importantly had had the chance to discuss them with my cousins. Having spent Thanksgiving on my own for the first time (my elderly parents had moved to Arizona), it was wonderful to feel the warmth of my extended family’s appreciation of my genealogical efforts and to have a greater sense of my own roots.

Over the course of the coming year, I learned so much about how to be a better technician with regard to my genealogical research. Say what you will but ensuring that someone else, who WILL see your research, can find the resources you used is just good manners. Is it a pain in the butt learning how to properly cite sources? You betcha. Do I do it right and consistently? Not yet, but I’m getting there. The few clients I’ve had have expressed appreciation for the documentation I’ve shared with them. And, I’m finding more and more tools to ensure that all the hours of work I’ve put into my own research will be a valuable asset to someone coming after me.

And, of course, that leads me to the inevitable: there’s no one after me. Thanksgiving was very hard last year, and this year it seems the Christmas holiday has me feeling…I don’t know…melancholy doesn’t quite capture what I’m feeling.  I avoided stores so I wouldn’t have to see the decorations. No holiday radio or Pandora. I cringe every time I drive into our subdivision and see all the holiday decorations up; with the weather being so warm early on it seems everyone pulled out all the stops with their decorations and lights. But my house is dark.

I had to go into the basement yesterday to get wrapping paper for my grand nephew’s birthday present, and all the holiday decorations were there in their boxes and bags. The thought of having to wrap the few gifts we give challenges me. But they’ll get wrapped and given with a warm smile and the wish that they could be so much more, that I could give my cousins and their kids more than the small tokens we can afford.

At the home of Elmer & Virginia Ill, Downers Grove, IL
Photo courtesy of Laura Cosgrove Lorenzana

As you grumble about the holiday hassle, the running from here to there, the endless stream of obligations, think about this: there’s someone out there that misses that experience and would give anything to have it back. To know the chaos of Christmas trees with too many packages underneath and the dread of how long it’s going to take to get everything sorted just so the opening can start. There’s the noisy clambering of kids and adults, and especially the inevitable argument over something trivial. There’s the baking and cooking for so many hungry party goers and that last minute run to the store with the ‘look of death’ shot to your husband because you told him there wasn’t enough wine. For those of you with all that and more, count your blessings.

 For those of us without, we’re not ‘without’. We choose. We choose to participate or not. We know we’re not alone, that there are others like us out there.  And if we can see past our own pain, however small or big, there are lots of ways that we can share ourselves to gain back our sense of warmth and being loved.  This year especially, there are so many families in the northeast who still desperately need help. Look around your own community and I’m sure you’ll find a place where your kindness will be appreciated. Don’t waste it; someone will appreciate it. 

May you all feel the spirit of this holiday season; of gifts received, but more importantly, of gifts given.

Happy Holidays


  1. I couldn't agree more, Laura. This year it was just the two of us (and cat) and the barest of decoration. We don't "do" presents for each other at Christmas but sponsored a homeless person so they could have 3 hot meals, a health check, fresh clothes and some company. Much more worthwhile than a commercialised Christmas :-) Hope you had a good time and Happy New Year when it comes. Jo

  2. Jo, what a generous gift you gave! We did have a lovely time sharing Christmas eve with my two cousins and their families; we're a small but determined bunch...Ha! Sadly, December 28th a dear friend lost her father, and today another dear friend lost her mother. My point about valuing the family we have seems to be even more true now. I do truly hope that you enjoyed the holidays as you spent them.


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