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My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

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29 November, 2007

A Genealogical Christmas Wish

Dear Santa,

The article I'm supposed to write for this month's edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is on "Wish Lists". I have so many wishes this Christmas! But since this is a genealogical Carnival, I'll focus on my Genealogical Wishes (what a concept!). I think the first genealogical wish I have is to finally get off my tailbone and order marriage and death records for my grandparents. I don't think I'll find birth records ... oh wait, I might for Gramma (DOYLE) O'ROURKE, as she was born in 1906, and birth records in PA were mandated, I believe, in 1905.

Anyway, if I'm ever to hope to "jump the pond" to find my great-grandparents' birthplaces, I'm going to have to start ordering records. Though I must thank my cousin Mike for sending me copies of the birth records for grandma's father and his sister. They were born in Birkenhead, England! Too bad they don't list the location of their parents' births.

Another Wish I have is to somehow save or win enough money to take my genealogy vacation. I want to go to Frontenac, KS to see where my paternal grandmother was born, then to Niagara Falls, NY where my brothers and I and my mother were born; to Pittston and Nanticoke, PA where both paternal and maternal lines were born; and finally to Atlanta, to visit my living brother and his family. I think at this point I'm going to need to win the lottery, because things keep coming up financially!

Finally, a Wish for something intangible. I've "talked" many times on this blog of my dad's sister, Aunt Maryann, who had Down Syndrome. I've always regretted that I didnt' know much about her. Though through my dad and his cousin Tom, I have gleaned some things about her; like her affection for people and her affinity for Liberace. Through pictures of her -- and there are many -- I gather she loved animals (particularly dogs), had a sense of humor, and was confident in who she was, something I know many people think those with cognitive disabilities never are.

So this final wish is this: I'd like to gather stories about my ancestors from those who knew them. I'd like to know about their likes, dislikes, quirks, affinities, etc. Something that will make them more than just a name and a date. I'd love to know where I got my somewhat morbid sense of humor; did I get that from the Doyles? The Hodicks? O'Rourkes? McHughs? Or all the above? Where did I get my nervous stomach from (I think I know this one)? What parts of my personality are nature, what parts culture, what parts nurture (what's left after nature and culture are figured out, I suppose).

So, Santa, my wish is for written stories about my ancestors. I think that would further my connection to them, just as the cousins who "found" me through my research have helped me feel connected to my family's past. Genealogy is a fun venture, but the research itself pales in comparison to the feeling I get whenever a "real life" connection with my ancestors' children develops. It really does have a "history repeats itself" feel to it.

Thanks for listening, Santa. I hope you got Izzie's letter, too; he has a lot of real cool wishes.

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