This time of year you can’t read the paper, watch television, listen to the radio, or peruse the internet without tripping over a “Top Ten” or “Best of” list. It’s fun to hear other people’s views on the best and the worst and argue with friends on your personal lists. I always enjoy New Year’s Eve as a time to not only look forward to the new year, but also look back on the one that has just past before the door slams shut forever.
I don’t keep a diary or a calendar, so looking back is usually a challenge and a memory exercise. It always seems that “not much happened”, which usually sparks a long list of “gotta do this” for the upcoming year. But, if you reflect on it long enough, memories come back to you, both good and bad, that helped to weave the tapestry that became 2008.
In the world of genealogy, the most significant event for me was starting this blog in January (more to come on that in about a week!). From it, I’ve gained ideas for articles, encouragement to write more, creative inspiration, and a lot of people I have never met that I now think of as friends. The most significant event with my family research this year was discovering the naturalization papers for my great-grandfather, Jan Piontkowski, which in turn led to his previously elusive passenger arrival record. Finding my grandfather’s Poland-born brother’s baptismal record was a thrill, because now I have a definite location in the city of Warsaw to search for the parents’ marriage record (on my to-do list for 2009). I also connected with some cousins and as a result received some photos of my Pater great-grandfather’s sisters. Bergmeister cousins in Germany also found me as a result of this blog.
In more personal genealogical news, my father’s first cousin died, we welcomed the news of a nephew’s birth in 2009, my cousin added a daughter to the family in September, and my niece and nephew gained a new cousin in September! I also said good-bye to a dear friend, Deirdre Mullen, who died in October at the age of 87 years young. I hadn’t seen Deirdre’s smile since we met on a trip to Italy in 2000, but I received her smile at least twice a year in the form of birthday and Christmas cards. Continue to pray for me, friend.
This year I tried to spend more time with family and friends – but it never feels like enough, despite some memorable dinners and events. I finally put a name on something that had tormented me for a while – diverticulitis! But, I also found out the one food that seems to cause the problem for me (peanuts, oh how I miss you…). My travels for work were almost non-existent, but my vacation took me to Venice, where I learned it’s not always sunny but still beautiful, and Croatia, where I learned that you can’t get there from here, there are few vowels, and they make great wine.
Despite some great, and therefore unusual, summer weather locally, I somehow only made it to the beach once. That mistake will not happen in 2009. I said good-bye to my beloved, beleaguered car after seven years. After waiting for 28 years, I finally saw the Philadelphia Phillies win the World Series! My connection to other “world news” was when I watched my retirement money quickly disappear by leaps and bounds, and I finally developed an interest in politics – only to suffer the agony of defeat.
I’m usually behind when it comes to music, books, and other forms of entertainment, so my “best of” lists don’t necessarily include anything that was actually released in 2008. Favorite reads this year: Forever by Pete Hamill, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Replay by Ken Grimwood, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. And hundreds of others I can’t quite recall! In music, I loved Sister Hazel’s Before the Amplifiers: Live Acoustic, found and adored the Foo Fighers’ cover to Band on the Run, and enjoyed my iPod enormously. I remembered how much I love Indiana Jones, but wished my memory would have been preserved as it was without The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to defile it. I relished the fact that Lost got way better, then was disappointed when it disappeared for months. There’s always a new show I “kill” by liking it – good-bye New Amsterdam – you were a genealogist’s delight!
Finally, the best things about the year were falling in love with my nephew Nicholas’ smile, my niece Ava’s beauty and wit, and my niece Natalie’s maturing grace and beauty. My beau and I laughed uncontrollably while on vacation, remembering how good it is to just be stoo-pid and relaxed. I enjoyed listening to my parents’ stories and spending time with them. I toasted to life with my best friends. All in all, I’d say it was a very good year. See ya later, 2008 – there’s a new friend knocking on my door!