We are approaching the summer season in the US and for many of us that means family gatherings. Between the countless scorched hot dogs and vats of potato salad we will find time to sit around a picnic table and catch each other up on the seminal events that have shaped our lives since we last saw each other. This is often a time to pass around the new baby and to remember those that passed on.
There is something reassuring about stepping away from our normal hurried existence and spending time with our extended family, those we see but a few times a year and those we see but a few times in our life. Making connections across those distant lines makes the world a bit smaller, a bit friendlier and more in sync.
These are the times when the conversations are slower, the laughter is a little louder, and the smiles are more heartfelt. This is where we share stories and bond to one another across generations and family lines. We are social creatures and gatherings like this are instinctual, it brings a sense of comfort, security and harmony to bring the herd together.
There may not be a better time to advance your own family history or genealogy research than at these events. Take some time to print or draw your family tree and highlight not only what you know, but where you still have some holes to fill. Make sure that everyone at your gathering knows that you are doing research and you are interested in their information.
We all have a piece of the puzzle, even siblings have something unique and different to share about Mom and Dad that is meaningful and worthwhile. Take this opportunity to get people talking to each other about your family, this is not just about you getting the data you want, it is about establishing and re-establishing connections to generations and insuring that the legacy of those generations is preserved.
How many time have you stared at a tattered and faded group photo from years ago and wondered who those mystery people were? As the resident genealogist or family historian you bear this responsibility for this generation, you are responsible to get an image of this gathering, identify each person in the image and preserve that information.
So this year, before the first to go start packing up the kids tell them that you are interested, you are interested in their stories, their photos, their memories. And then most importantly, follow through.