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For all that we have

Thanksgiving has always been The Legal Genealogist‘s favorite holiday.

Focusing on — in this order — family, food and football (go Rutgers! beat Maryland!), it’s one of the low-stress holidays even if an occasional feast runs into a glitch with a turkey taking longer than expected or a side dish not turning out quite as intended.

give thanks

It has, of course, a great history in the United States, beginning in 1789 when George Washington declared a day of public thanksgiving and calling for (among other things) an “encrease of science” around the world.1

There were many Thanksgiving proclamations after that, and the holiday was standardized to November by President Lincoln in 1863, and as a national holiday on the fourth Thursday of November in 1941.2

I don’t know how many Thanksgiving proclamations have repeated Washington’s call for that “encrease of science” — but I am most assuredly grateful for it here in 2021. Because it is science that has made it possible to say one thing this year that so many families cannot say:

We’re all okay, again.

When the pandemic began early in 2020, there were 42 men, women and children ranging from under a year to 75 years of age alive on this earth who were descended from, are partnered with, or married to a descendant from, one or both of my parents.

Here on this 2021 Thanksgiving weekend in the United States, there are still 42 men, women and children now ages two to 77 alive on this earth who descend from, are partnered with, or are married to a descendant of, one or both of my parents.

I cannot begin to express how thankful I am for that one simple fact.

It’s the only thing that matters, in the end.

Those 42 people have not escaped totally unscathed. In the pre-vaccine days, we had our own way-too-up-close-and-personal experiences with this virus. But science saw us through that, and science has given us safe and effective vaccines, and every single one of those 42 who’s eligible has been vaccinated (and the rest are waiting, chomping at the bit).

That’s why my family joins its voice to George Washington’s this Thanksgiving weekend… in prayer and gratitude for the “encrease of science” in the face of this pandemic. We are so grateful that science is giving us the chance, cautiously and with care for each other and for all others we come into contact with, to begin living full lives again.

And — far more — that science has given us the best chance to live, period.

We can recover from anything else life has to throw at us.

Everything else is no problem at all.

As long as it is still true — after all the trials and all the separation and all the angst of this pandemic — that every one of those 42 people has made it through.

For that, I am — and pray I will continue to be — eternally thankful.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Giving thanks, 2021 style,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 27 Nov 2021).


  1. Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789,” Founders Online, U.S. National Archives ( : accessed 27 Nov 2021).
  2. See “Congress Establishes Thanksgiving,” Center for Legislative Archives, U.S. National Archives ( : accessed 27 Nov 2021).
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