We may be halfway through the first month of the year, but I am still running across blog posts about New Year's resolutions—or, at least, New Year's "goals." I started posting my plans early, using the old-fashioned twelve days of Christmas to detail one genealogy target per month for 2021. It's good to have a solid outline of what we hope to accomplish for the upcoming year's research.
Along the way, though, I realized one more thing about New Year traditions: as much as we try to look forward, that New Year's day is also a call for the Auld Lang Syne. No matter how much I try to look forward to the future with this flip of the calendar's page, I can't think of next year's plans without remembering the ones who, in the past, have been part of my research collaboration.
And so, that Auld Lang Syne call brings me to the realization that genealogical research is cyclical. We work on a specific line for a while, going until we can find no further trace of documentation on our farthest removed ancestral generation, then we shift to a different project in the hopes of gaining better headway. It is sometimes only when we retrace our steps on a particular line, years later, that we recall those distant cousins who walked that same research path with us, last time we visited that particular branch of the family.
In this past week, as I review my research goals for the upcoming year, I've realized there are three people with whom I really want to reconnect. Each one of them was someone with whom was shared a robust email dialog, sometimes over months, others through the years. One particular person was one with whom I last exchanged emails almost eight years ago. Another one was someone I actually had the pleasure of meeting, face to face, as we explored whether DNA testing would confirm my hypothesis about the family connection. Yet another woman has been so very helpful in sharing information, despite our initial doubt of any connection—another surprise, demonstrated through DNA, showing us otherwise.
I have heard many fellow researchers lately mention their disappointment when, in reaching out to others tracing the same family lines, the enthusiasm for sharing information was not reciprocated. Yes, there are some who may not—yet!—show any interest in exchanging details or working together on a brick wall line. But that is not to say that is an artifact of a bygone era. While you may have to search for those who share that kindred spirit, there are genea-friends out there to be found. And, once found, to recall during those Auld Lang Syne moments, then reach out and reconnect.