By: Jeremy Balkin

The Dreaded Dinner

Thanksgiving dinner is actually going great this year. Nobody has commented on the fact that Uncle Dave is very clearly going through some sort of horrific midlife crisis. The teenage husband of one of your nieces hasn’t said anything offensive yet, and the smell of cigarettes emanating from his body is surprisingly muted this time. The fact that Michael still quite literally has never had a job and is now 36 is finally becoming accepted by your grandparents (even if on the inside they’re still desperately pleading with whatever higher power will listen that he contribute something to society). Everyone at the table is pretty calm. Then someone brings up politics.

There’s a common opinion that family reunions are generally hostile. This may be the case for some families (Not for mine of course. Hi Mom!). Families differ greatly around the world. For people that were adopted or orphaned at a young age, it can mean a lot of different things. For me, it’s always evoked happiness. I have a large extended family and many members live nearby. They’ve gotten me through a lot and I define myself as an extension of them.

Connecting on a Cellular Level

Because of the millions of people who have tested with FamilyTreeDNA so far, families have gotten bigger. My DNA Matches email me often, and though the content of their messages differ than, say, emails I get from my dad (he’s never in awe over the amount of centimorgans we share, and he’s never made me meticulously tell him every single family name in my history), it’s a good feeling to know that there are so many others out there already connected to me. While I certainly have not reveled in the discovery of a long lost parent (as some customers have), I have learned a lot.

There’s a certain feeling I can’t quite put into words of connecting with people with whom you already have some sort of family or genetic connection. Having communicated with Matches over the years, I’ve picked up on some really interesting things. For example, a lot of them seem to have the same interests as me. Sometimes even similar quirks.

It’s an amazing feeling to not have to leave your living room to find someone who hates cheese as much as you. Almost 100% of the earth’s population enjoys cheese (results of my own personal study pending). It only took me 35 years and a DNA test to find at least one other like-minded individual. I won’t go down the dark rabbit hole of why and how much I dislike cheese. However, the fact that you’re now judging me for revealing this is a small example of the beauty of connection.

Give Thanks for Those You’re With

This year, if you find yourself at an awkward Thanksgiving Dinner, it can be helpful to understand how family/friends/loved ones are all connected to you. Though you may disagree with everyone else about the current state of politics, and you feel that all is lost once the subject is breached (and your heart starts beating faster), sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Family is often about fitting into a complex puzzle, and our differences are more reason to connect even more.

About the Author

Jeremy Balkin

Customer Service Manager

Jeremy’s bio is super interesting, but he can write it better than we can.