52 Ancestors #51 – 2018 – A “Nice” Year- Genealogically and Otherwise

As I write this, many people, including one of my closest friends, are praying that 2018 hurries up and disappears. They need and deserve, 2019 to be better. I’m taking this opportunity to express my thanks that 2018 was really pretty nice to me. Sure, there were some trials in our family. For example, our daughter’s house experienced a flood requiring them to live in alternate housing for more than 3 months. Two of my sisters struggle nearly every day with health issues; one is challenged with fibromyalgia, the other has a spouse experiencing declining health. Another sister is raising a child on the autism spectrum (and I should add she and her husband are doing so with amazing strength and humor!) A niece is facing serious health concerns with the charm and grace she has always shown. I’m sure I have left out several others, and to them, I apologize in advance. My personal life, however, was pretty darn nice in 2018.

Here’s a recap of my “nice” year:

New Year’s Eve in Cabo! 

After a wonderful week in Cabo San Lucas with Caitlin’s adorable family, we celebrated the beginning of 2018 at the New Year’s Eve celebration hosted by the Hotel El Ganzo. We really need to go back there – a great place to relax and enjoy some terrific music.

In February, I attended my first RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. Other than blowing out my knee while seating myself in the airplane (in Hartford, before we even left town!) it was an amazing experience! Happily, I get to experience it again this year with my “partner-in-genealogical crime”, Cheryl. (Thanks again to Jenny Hawran of Like Herding Cats for the Ambassador Pass!)

Silliness at the MyHeritage after party – RootsTech 2018

Our fourth grandchild, Logan, was born on April 20. Yup – 420 made another appearance in our family.[1] In 2014, grandson, Jack was born at 4:20 pm! That was even funnier because he was born in Boulder, Colorado – where 4/20 is celebrated at CU (University of Colorado at Boulder) like it’s a national holiday.

The newest member of the Jefts family

Floor seats are great. Unless you’re 4’9!

In June, Scott and I spent a few days in Colorado so we could attend the SteelyDan/Doobie Brothers concert. Fun time with Cait, Matt and my sister, Betsy and her husband, Mike. 

Later that month, Scott and I embarked on our first ever trip to Europe. It truly was a heritage trip for me, as well as my sister Jeanne, who joined us on the adventure along with her partner, Suzi. The most poignant (okay, maybe funniest) part of the trip was the sudden thunderstorm that flared up immediately following the sprinkling of my mother’s ashes in the bushes of her childhood home in Vienna, Austria.

Plaque on the side of Mom’s childhood home.
I wonder if it was there when she lived in the
apartment house in 1938
Mom, hope it was okay to bring you “home.”

In September, I took on another “job.” For the past few years, I have been teaching classes on career exploration at Hamden Adult Education. This year, the role expanded to “Career Navigator,” working with students individually to help them develop a career path. I may need to rethink this so-called “retirement” job! I also continued to offer a course on beginning genealogy and one on Jewish genealogy through the Hamden Adult Ed Enrichment program.

September 8 was a landmark day for our family!! My brother Dean married the fabulous Shellye Valauskas. It was so incredibly wonderful to have a family gathering, celebrating these two.

Dean and Shellye’s wedding. Almost everyone on my side of the family was there!!! 3 generations – so amazing!!

Scott got to cross off one of his bucket list items on September 19. What a fabulous time we had at the Elton John Concert! 2018 turned out to be our “Year of Concerts.” More on that in a bit.

Fantastic seats for Elton John’s “Goodbye” Tour

By the end of September, it was pretty clear I would be tackling a new writing project. In 2009, I co-authored a book on Ideal’s Petite Princess/Princess Patti dollhouse furniture with my West Coast friend, Linda Gant. The original 250 copies sold out quickly and we have received many requests for books since then. I learned a lot about good writing over the past few years, so it seemed the time was right to get to work on the second edition. Currently, we are about 25% done with the new book. More exciting is that, in 2019, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. will be featuring this dollhouse furniture line (along with the second edition, hopefully) in a new exhibit!!
“Almost” like seeing them live!

More concert fun for me! On Nov. 15 we attended the “Simon and Garfunkel Story.” It wasn’t Paul and Art but pretty darn close. And thanks to a freak snowstorm, there wasn’t anyone sitting in front of me, blocking my view! Just a few days later, On Nov. 25, Scott crossed off another bucket list item – attending a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert. Amazing show!!!

Available on lulu.com

My biggest genealogical event for 2018 was, without a doubt, the completion of the book about Scott’s great-grandmother, Catherine C. FitzAllen. Opulent in Aliases is the result of over three years of research and writing. Not a perfect volume, I’m sure, but it was an amazing process to experience.

Ah—December! Seemed like it took forever to arrive, but now that Christmas is four days away, I can’t believe how fast time flies. I’ve participated in Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blog challenge several times over the past few years. This year I am patting myself on the back. With this post, I have contributed 48 out the 51 weeks so far. My most prolific year ever! My focus this year was to write about “my generation,” as too often our focus is chronicling the lives those long gone. Not that that isn’t important, but, as I’ve written before, our stories are important as well since, at some point, we will become someone’s ancestor.
And that seems a good place to stop for today. For your enjoyment, here a few pics from some “nice” Christmases past.

Oy! That haircut! 1966 – I was 11 years old. Gave up quickly
on the guitar, by the way. Moved on to the banjo. That didn’t
work out so well either.

1969. Whassup, Kathy? Didn’t like your gift?

This is my ALL TIME favorite Christmas picture.
Probably 1967. Just so you know, Dean dressed like that every day!

Thanks to Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks for the Week #51 prompt “Nice.”

[1] I’m pretty hip for an old lady, because I know what 420 is about! For the uninformed, see this Wikipedia article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/420_(cannabis_culture)

One thought on “52 Ancestors #51 – 2018 – A “Nice” Year- Genealogically and Otherwise

  1. Deborah, congratulations on a fabulous 2018 and so many accomplishments, personal and professional! I won't be at RootsTech but will follow along by reading posts from you and other bloggers and tweeters. Happy and healthy new year!


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