New Year’s Day can be a melancholy time for me. Celebrations are now all over, leaving one solitary hiatus before the long stream of work weeks stretches out beyond the horizon of our foreseeable future. In that momentary pause, this New Year’s Day, my inclination is to return to a style of celebration more in tune with old-fashioned sensibilities—a time when people went a-calling to the homes of their dear friends and family, to wish their health in the upcoming year.
Old Miss Campbell was nearly as great a favorite as young Miss Campbell, so a succession of black coats and white gloves flowed in and out of the hospitable mansion pretty steadily all day. The clan was out in great force, and came by in installments to pay their duty to Aunt Plenty and wish the compliments of the season to "our cousin." Archie appeared first…. Hardly was he gone when Will and Geordie came marching in, looking as fine as gray uniforms with much scarlet piping could make them and feeling peculiarly important, as this was their first essay in New Year's call-making. Brief was their stay, for they planned to visit every friend they had….
~Louisa May Alcott in Rose In Bloom
That was a time of hospitality, a moment to reconnect and memorialize what each one meant to the others. That day became the occasion to call on those whose acquaintance stirred fond remembrances.
I imagine from such a sentiment sprang the old melody Auld Lang Syne. Pensive mood, plaintive plea, it calls me to remember old friends and even passing acquaintances for whom some kernel of significance encapsulates a lingering desire to once again get in touch. Just hearing the melody puts me in a mood to remember—often a melancholy mood, as I realize for some friendships and family connections, there is no more opportunity to again get together.
With a blog history as short as that of A Family Tapestry, I don’t have a long history of virtual acquaintances to savor, so for my “days of auld lang syne,” I choose to remember with gratefulness those who have been a bright spot in my first blogging year. Perhaps you’ll care to go “door to door” with me and visit these bloggers who got me started on my way, influencing my writing direction and solidifying my blog “vision.” I fondly remember these with great appreciation for what I have learned at their digital doorstep.
On this, my premier virtual New Year’s call-making, we’ll stop first at Roots’n’Leaves. This was among my first blogs to follow. I was fascinated with Joan’s handling of transcribing family documents—something I intend to do also—and particularly charmed with her self-description in her blog profile. I appreciate Joan because she gave me a visual model to follow, which became an unspoken gesture of encouragement.
From there, we travel to Forgotten Old Photos, where “Far Side of Fifty” granted me the courage to post my own recently-acquired set of unidentified photographs by her intrepid pursuit of the proverbial needle-in-haystack. If she could produce her “Full Circles,” there could be hope for my nameless collection, too.
“Far Side of Fifty” gifted me with another acquaintance: one of her blog readers who has a knack for unearthing the amazing from the labyrinthine archival hideouts of the online world. “Iggy,” a blogger in his own right, taught me the kindness of always leaving a comment—salve to the tentative blogger’s soul. I’ve tried to apply that lesson wherever I go in the blogging world and hope to replicate his encouragement in the writing lives of other bloggers.
With hopes of developing research prowess in mind, I was happy, early on, to make the virtual acquaintance of librarian-cum-blogger Deb Ruth at Adventures in Genealogy. I so appreciated her introduction into the research world as she dealt with topics ranging from technology to archival resources to personal research finds, with beautiful photography as an added bonus. I especially enjoy her “Follow Friday” tours across the blogging spectrum, and several of her recommendations have become my reading mainstays.
While on last summer’s research trip, I made the virtual acquaintance of The Educated Genealogist, another blogger who not only shares my love of genealogical research (and my passion for lifelong learning with her blog’s theme quote from Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire”) but come to find out, she happens to share my real-world hometown address, too. Sheri Fenley and I have since shared quite a few analog cups of coffee as we spend hours talking and laughing about just about everything. What Sheri doesn’t realize is how much she encourages me to write—just do it and write!
Blog hopping sometimes unearths serendipitous discoveries. While in the throes of my brick-wall Irish pursuits I stumbled upon what I hoped would be a kindred spirit when I discovered Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman’s writing at On a Flesh and Bone Foundation: An Irish History. Jennifer’s writing is so fragile and sensitive yet carries such dignity and strength as she recounts her impressions about her yearly research treks to her family’s homeland. She gives me the courage to seek creative ways to convey the dull, dry facts of genealogy and breathe life into the musty remains of ancestry. That is the type of inspiration I crave as I seek a way to recount my own families’ stories.
With that goal in mind, I was so fortunate to have made my latest discovery in my salon of like-minded bloggers once again via blog hopping. With an eye to discovering others who are working on transcription of relatives’ journals and letters—and expanding it with their own commentary and historical perspective—just as I first found Joan, I now found Linda Gartz and her appropriately-named Family Archaeologist. Starting with a love note from her grandfather to her yet-to-be-claimed grandmother over one hundred years ago, Linda builds her family’s story from the foundation of family documents into a charming narrative that spans decades. She gives me yet another reason to be convinced that such a project is possible.
There are so many others I’ve met along the way in this, my first blogging year. Where would I be, for instance, without the support of Thomas MacEntee’s organizational coordination of projects and publicity at GeneaBloggers? Or the sagacious—yet vaguely librarian-ish—glances of the “dazzlingly skilled” footnoteMaven? Not to mention the current events grand tour of genealogy delivered in timely manner to this new writer by dearMyrtle!
Though I wish for more space to express my thanks and fond wishes for a bright New Year to so many who have encouraged me in my first blogging year, I must politely excuse myself. With that, for now, I’ll conclude this New Year’s call-making with appreciation for your company and an Auld Lang Syne for my new blogging friends.