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Thankful Me: Just Me and My 64,051 Cousins



I've spent the past few days in Salt Lake City at the Salt Palace Convention Center attending RootsTech, a large family history conference. Between the in-person attendees, and the online attendees, the "Find My Relatives at RootsTech" app told me that I had 64,051 cousins joining me (at the time of this writing. The number keeps going up as more people join in online.) One thousand three hundred and fifty-one of those were attending in person. That's a lot of people! I didn't actually meet all of them, of course, as we were all going from class to class, attending lectures and workshops, listening to keynote speakers, browsing through the expo hall, and going down the street to the FamilySearch library, in search for ancestors' records. That's not to say I didn't connect with relatives. I bumped into old friends (at least one of whom is also a distant cousin), I communicated with others via messaging, and sometimes I chatted with strangers who turned out to be distant cousins. If you want to find out if we are related, you can visit to join Relatives at RootsTech. If you find out we're cousins, let me know! 

Whether or not you want to connect, and even if you aren't into genealogy, I would definitely recommend going to the RootsTech website and check out the general sessions with keynote speakers  Jordin Sparks, Me Ra Koh, and Sean Astin. Their stories have universal appeal. I even texted my granddaughter during one of the general sessions, because after Sean Astin spoke, Adassa took the stage. When she started singing, "We Don't Talk About Bruno," I knew my granddaughter would be interested. Anyway, RootsTech online is free and there are lots of good resources there, so go check it out. 

You've probably figured out that my list today will be focused on family and the RootsTech conference, so let's jump in:

1. I'm thankful for RootsTech and the many people who work hard to make it happen each year, from the sponsors to the presenters to the behind-the-scene folks to the volunteers in the green "Ask Me Anything" t-shirts. Kudos on a job well-done!

2. I'm thankful for ideas I've gathered during the conference to help me track down my third-great-grandmother, Martha Jerrell. It's going to take some digging and roundabout sleuthing, but I'm hopeful that maybe I can find more sources to actually document her life events. If any of you cousins of mine happen to share a Martha Jerrell, married to an Alfred Swift, living in Jefferson county, Illinois, in 1840, please let me know! 

3. I'm thankful for answered little prayers. Have you ever been lonely in a crowd of people? I have. I knew I would be attending RootsTech by myself this year, and while I by nature enjoy time alone, I also knew I didn't want to feel alone. So I said a little prayer that I could connect with other RootsTech attendees. My prayer was answered. One example was while waiting for the Frontrunner train to take me home after one of the days, a couple of women and I were chatting, and as the train pulled up to the stop, one of the women said, "Let's all sit together. I'm having such a good time talking to you!" None of us knew each other, but we had a nice visit and the time passed quickly. 

4. I'm thankful for cousins who reached out to me via the app. A fourth cousin told me she had photos and information about one of my lines, and asked if I would be interested in seeing the photos. Of course I would! She e-mailed me a bunch of photos, and I look forward to corresponding with her more. 

5. I'm thankful for Connect Our Kids, a non-profit organization I learned about at RootsTech. Their website lists their mission statement as:  "Connect Our Kids provides free modern technology to help professionals find loving extended family members and build social capital for vulnerable children and their families." I support that! If you know social workers, CASA volunteers, guardians ad litem, etc. please pass along this free resource!

6. During RootsTech, I did skip out on a class or two so I could go do some research at the FamilySearch Library (formerly known as the Family History Library). As I told John, I made progress! I know which books my ancestors are NOT in! Anyway, as I walked from the Salt Palace Convention Center to the library, I walked by Temple Square. As I've mentioned previously,  the Salt Lake Temple is currently undergoing a major renovation to, among other things, make it more earthquake-proof. As I looked over to Temple Square, I could hardly see the temple at all, as it is currently covered in scaffolding. I snapped a photo or two. I'm thankful for temples, and for the chance to live near the Salt Lake Temple during this time of renovation. By the way, when the renovations are complete (estimated in 2025), the Salt Lake Temple will have an open house, free to the public. It will be a great opportunity to see inside this historic building. Put Utah on your vacation plans for 2025! :-)

Above, the Salt Lake City Temple in January 2020, when remodeling commenced, and below, the Salt Lake City Temple in March 2023, missing some spires and covered in scaffolding

7. I'm thankful for snow. Yes, I agree it is cold, and yes, I agree it's a bit ridiculous that it keeps snowing every. single. week. BUT, I can't control it and so I might as well look on the bright side, and the bright side is that we need the water and snow now makes for happy plants later. Also, falling snow is mesmerizing to watch.

8. Even though March is coming in like a lion (did we expect anything otherwise?) and spring seems so far away, in truth, it is indoor seed-starting time! John planted a big variety of pepper seeds this past week, and this coming week (now that RootsTech is over and I have more free time) I'm going to start the tomatoes and some other plants. I'm thankful for the ability to garden indoors and the hope that brings of warmer, less-snowy weather! 

9. I'm thankful for wildlife. On day while I was at RootsTech, I got a photo from John of a bighorn sheep he saw while he was on a hike on the mountain behind our home. How cool is that?! 

A bighorn sheep on a snowy mountainside

10. I'm thankful for John. He supports and encourages me in my endeavors. Examples from this week include designing and building a light support system for my indoor plant-growing project (and planting the peppers, too!) and having dinner waiting for me every day when I got home from RootsTech. 

What are you thankful for this week? Have you been tracking down family members, planting seeds, or watching the snowfall? Regardless, I'm sure you have something to be thankful for! Let me know what it is, and go check out the Ten Things of Thankful Blog!


  1. I'm so glad you went and had a good time!

  2. Sounds like you had an amazing time! We are probably cousins :)

  3. Hi, cousin! I love your lists, and I especially love #3. And #5.
    I know someone who was at RootsTech (besides you)! We have never met in person, but we are both members of a Facebook page and are now Facebook friends. Wouldn't it be crazy if you met her there? Her name is Marilyn and she's from Kansas City.
    I can't even believe big horn sheep live that close to you! I wanted to see one soooo badly when we vacationed in Colorado several (many) years ago, but never got even a glimpse of one in the distance!


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