Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Search: Holiday Opportunities

The holidays are always a great opportunity to get together and simply enjoy the company of friends and family. While we may not be completely conscious of it at the time, it is a means to strengthen the bonds that we have with one another and take stock of the changes that have happened in our lives since the last time that we all gathered together. The most important thing about these times is to be in the moment and to spend time with those you love but there are opportunities that come about naturally from time to time that we, as family historians, must remain cognizant of and remember not just for ourselves but for the family as a whole the for the future when things have a tendency to be forgotten.

It is inconsequential how one gets to a subject but there are moments when we must be opportunistic and learn a little more about those around us. Furthermore, if we are able to ask questions we must do so to fill in some of the details that may have been glossed over. At the same time, when possible, we must be ready to recall what we know in order to offer that information in the hopes of jogging someone else’s memory or adding dimension or perspective to the story being told.

For some, including myself, this is sometimes the hardest part of trying to find out everything I can about the family. There is a fine line between conversation and investigation which we must respect during the holidays because, again, this is a time for family not about family. After all, we are all guilty from time to time for focusing more on the past than the present. Sometimes it is during occasions such as this while other times it is about not taking the opportunity, setting aside the time, and talking to family members about their own history and about what they know about others in the family.

Today I learned a few more details and was given a few more documents. Thankfully, I learned a lot with little effort. It was more about being in the right place and keeping my ears open to the conversations taking place. I knew some additional details and I asked a few questions but it was part of the natural flow of the dialog. Maybe I have finally found some kind of balance to this holiday conundrum. Of course, it helps that everyone knows about my passion for the family history and the respect that I have for our history. That can sometimes be the difference between being given, entrusted, with personal information and histories and not ever being told what happened.