Here in the Midwest, we are having another crazy freeze-thaw winter. I have to look out of the window each morning to decide snow boots or galoshes. The one constant besides moisture is the steady stream of garden supply catalogs in my mail box. Page after page of dreamy blooms taunt me from Holland and New Jersey. What to do, what to do?
Meanwhile, I peck away wildly at the keyboard to stay current on my FHWC pledge…oh Armchair Genealogist, you are a stern mistress! But I have decided to sneak away for a few moments and to add my customary 3 Must-Dos to your To-Do list for the month. Following the heady triumph of January’s neatly filed items, we are really deserving of some heavy-duty fun writing!
Onward I say! Into the breach (I get really fired up after reading a few posts on Pacific Paratrooper). Anyway~ here’s our list of Must-Do’s for this month…work ‘em as you can!
I. Be sneaky and Maintain Contact ! All your efforts over the Holidays to gather current contact info for relatives shouldn’t go wasted. Become “familiar” with them again. Make the first (in honesty, it could be the only) move and get the dialogue going. The perfect excuse is a family letter. Write up a quick little newsletter / synopsis (no one said this Family Historian gig was for slackers) and doll it up with a couple of photos and/or some of the cute free-bees available from Julie’s The Old Design Shop web site. Just a page or two, black and white is OK Put them in the real live mail for a nostalgic touch. Pretty things received in the mail are harder to discard than emails. Report a couple of findings, and then ASK FOR SOMETHING! Anything counts as long as it’s easy, and there are a few different things to choose from. Be sure to keep all of your contact info front and center.
Here’s a few favorite tricks from my bag~
*Grandma Jenny always made the best cornbread…does anyone know her secret?
*What did Uncle Frank’s middle initial E stand for?
*I see the same pretty dishes in all the photos of family gatherings, does anyone recall the pattern or maker?
*What kind of fish did Uncle Earl try to catch every fall when he went to Minnesota?
Now, you may already know the answers, have a good idea, or plain ol don’t give a crapp about the Musky fishing…but what you are fishing for is participation. Sneak up on them and get some!
II. Begin planning some weather-permitting field trips for the year. We all have places we’d like to get to…given the time. Truthfully though, unless we plan it out and put it on our calendars, we can spend years planning to go out to the old family homestead 3 counties over before we get it done. And, it doesn’t hurt to start dreaming of a bigger more ambitious trip either. Let others know you’re just chomping at the bit to go to Wales and chase down some dead folks and distant cousins. You may find a bored rich cousin who has just been waiting for the right travel companion. I’d sure carry Tilda’s bag in exchange for my cartage
III. Prepare a Bibliography ala Mom for one person who you would love to write about, or who you have already written a great deal about. I say “ala Mom” because I really believe this can be one of the most fascinating parts of the stories you write. By the time you’ve made it through Must-Do number one and two for this month, I promise to have “Pile by Pile part II” up so you can see what I mean. Until then, if you feel all itchy with ambition, start gathering up all your fact folders for Uncle Henry, and we’ll be ready to roll
Yes Armchair…I’m distracted again…I’ll get right on it
Happy February Everyone ! xoxo Mom
ps…it’s not too late to join in on the Family History Writing Challenge for February. visit http://www.thearmchairgenealogist.com for full details