Saturday, December 31, 2011

More Tentative Than Resolute

’Tis the time to turn attention to that most traditional of traditions, the making of New Year Resolutions—and yet, I hesitate. I hesitate because, having learnt from experience, I habitually fail to do that for which I put my most earnest energy declaring ’twill be so.

And yet, it is admirable to peruse those declarations when coming from the mouths of others. Many write in such glowing terms about their intentions that I nearly feel compelled to stand to my feet and shout out a fervent “hurrah!” for their noble plans.

Having succumbed to such calendar-conquering attempts in my past, I’ve since been persuaded to adopt the sage advice of the Apostle James, who in near-antiquity warned:

“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow.”

At least I can vouch for that—not much further than the week before Christmas, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that I’m about to board a plane to visit a cousin who is unexpectedly facing her last moments of battling cancer. Who would have known when she presided at her daughter’s wedding less than six months ago? Who even expected such a trip a month ago?

So I learn to be circumspect about this calendar thing. How can I say with certainty what I will accomplish in 2012?

And yet, I can dream. Not pie-in-the-sky dreams, mind you, nor the carefully-calculated “dreams” called in the business world “goals” or in the mom-at-home world “to-do lists.” I’ll take my dream inspiration from the type of star-following journey of some wise men long ago. They took their cue from a specific star: following it as long as it was moving, but having the good sense to stop when it hovered and to then seek further direction from details closer at hand.

And so, on this starry (somewhere!) eve, here are my New Year’s Tentativities.

First of all: For all the blessings, help and encouragement I’ve received along my way, I wish to give back. I’ll start this promptly with a New Year’s Day greeting of gratefulness on my first post in January. I’ll follow up with some action to support my words by volunteering to help make more archived source documents available online for the genealogy-searching public. I’ve already started on this one by indexing for on records I’ve wanted to see online (Catholic Church records in Chicago, for instance) and for local goodwill (our county’s Genealogy Society’s joint project with to make our county’s obituary notices available online for all). Thanks to a blog I frequent, I see that a county my Stevens line claimed as home in the 1850s has yet to be indexed for its marriage records, and it will be a simple matter for me to join the fun there, as well as to discover other indexing projects as my time allows through the rest of the year.

Second, I want to pick up some loose threads from my wish list for 2011, and pursue family history details for some potentially historically-significant family members in my McClellan line in Florida. I’ve received an e-mail from a reader with some details about this family and I can hardly stand the wait to blog about it. I also want to fulfill my wish to write up some of that data for a Wikipedia entry that is currently a mere stub for lack of willing writers to elaborate on the topic.

Third, of course, I want to continue unfolding the accumulated hundred-year-old memorabilia I acquired about the Chicago Tully and Stevens family and related lines. Believe me, there is much more to cover, and though I have much of the raw data on hand, it will require quite a bit of background research to round out. That journey will take us through some post-World War II adventures, then step back in time to explore a branch of the family that, through a story-book courtship and wedding, brings us from Chicago to rural Ohio. It will include exploration of young ladies’ letter writing ministries of encouragement for the seriously ill during those times of isolation before health-restoring and life-giving medicines. And it will eventually bring me back, squarely face-to-face with the Tully brick wall that keeps me from addressing our roots in Ireland.

Finally—and this is my grandest, though most timorously-voiced goal—I wish to further organize this material as part of a book to be written for our business. That book will provide the background story for a message my husband has been giving to teenagers over the last decade on valuing their own life enough to comprehend its impact on others—especially if it were carelessly tossed aside. That presentation has grown out of my husband’s own life message and leaves an indelible mark wherever he has spoken. We are hoping a book which encapsulates this message will enable him to reach even more young people.

Dreams? Yes.

Achievable? Possibly—although I can’t vouch for my ability to be task-driven and focused at all times. (I tend to side with Lorine McGinnis Schulze of Olive Tree Genealogy when it comes to “frenetic.” And I’m okay with that.)

But as a friend of mine once reminded me when I considered, at my age, going back to college for another degree: at the end of the year, whether I do this or not, it will still be the end of another year. Why not make it count?


  1. Another beautiful post, Jacqui! Your blog is a joy to follow. I love that final paragraph, it wraps it all up, life in general, really, so well. Just do the best to make it count.

  2. I've been thinking Frank's navy career would be a good portion of a book -- and that you could possibly write it - when you voice this other sort of book - and yes, you could write that one too. Its a matter of focus and priority - I think you would find such a book to be truly fulfilling.


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