Friday, March 25, 2016

I Break For Genealogy

Ah, spring break. Hearing of all the schools in the surrounding districts which still adhere to a scheduled spring break during Easter week—or is that merely a coincidence?—reminds me of how I used to get my genealogy research done in earlier years. Yep, on school breaks.

Now that I've taken an active part in promoting our local genealogical society—in hopes of boosting our membership, of course—I run into all sorts of people who have promised themselves they'll get around to "doing" their family tree, once they retire.

I couldn't possibly have lasted so long. The suspense would have killed me.

Of course, I started in earnest on my lifelong obsession back when I finished college—the first time, that is. I'd squeeze in a trip to the state archives (only a forty five minute drive for lucky me) on a day off from work. Or stop at Sutro Library in San Francisco or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City en route to visit family or friends. Sometimes, folks wondered what the trip was really for—them? Or the research?

Once I landed a "real" job—teaching high school students—the ebb and flow of research days seemed to dry up to less than even a trickle. I soon found that was handily balanced by the luxury of an expansive summer vacation. Still trying to escape the economics of those starving student years, though, the teaching gig needed to give way to a more permanent, year-round engagement, closer to the field of my specialization. Gone, for many years, were those opportunities to squeeze in a few days of research in the year's calendar.

If it had not been for opting for the home education route with my own family, perhaps I, too, would be pining away for those golden retirement years when one could research family history to our heart's content. That's when I began maximizing that routine of feverish research during school breaks. Summer vacation, spring break, and even the back half of Christmas vacation yielded up precious hours to follow that passion.

Our homeschooling years are far behind us, now, and my research calendar no longer has to morph to fit an academic calendar. But some things stay with us, no matter what season of life we're in. When spring break gets here, I still perk up and remember fondly the opportunities to grab time for genealogical pursuits.

If you haven't "retired yet," I hope you don't pine away for that moment. Be proactive and schedule that "retirement" promise into your calendar now. When we salt away those gifts of time we've always promised ourselves, in the long run, it invigorates us and helps us return to our regular tasks, refreshed. In the meantime, it provides a taste of accomplishing that genealogical project you might have been dreaming of doing. Even if it is "retirement" on the fifteen-minute-installment plan—or the spring break version—it's a pocket of time that, revisited again and again, can add up.

And give you a chance to do more research on that family question you've always wondered about.

Above: "Spring in Schoore (Zeeland)," 1894 oil on canvas by Belgian realist painter, Theodoor Verstraete; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.


  1. I often hear of folks that say they will travel when they retire, and sadly, their health is no longer quite up to it. If you have a dream, do it today! Tomorrow might never come.

    1. So true! I remember that old saying, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick," and try to find ways to pack little slivers of my dreams into everyday life.

  2. The folks miss so much if you wait to do genealogy and family history.

    1. Grant, I think sometimes people think it is such an enormous task that they can't tackle it until "later"--like retirement--when they think they have more time. Of course, all the retirees I know say they've never been so busy as they are, now that they are retired ;)

  3. I wish we had traveled more when we were younger, now it is next to impossible. I wish more people in my family were interested in family history:)

    1. I wish more people were interested in their own family history, too, Far Side. But don't give up hope. I just had a conversation with a relative the other day that made me realize that it sometimes takes time for that interest to evolve. When we think, "There's no one...," that someone may have yet to discover that compelling interest. But someday...

      In fact, I think I'll blog about it next week.


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