Saturday, December 21, 2019

First-Day-of-Winter Doldrums

When the shortest day of the year begins to feel as if it were the longest day, it's time to find an antidote to my mood's doldrums. This is the kind of time when I do best with mindless activities. If I had more energy, house cleaning might come to mind, but this time, I'm looking for something a bit more subdued. And I found the perfect drudgery to mask such symptoms: cleaning up my trees' Ancestry hints.

Other people might pull out the newspaper and struggle over a crossword puzzle, or go to the closet and pull out a box of a thousand jigsaw puzzle pieces and hopelessly struggle to put the picture back together again. Geneaholics like me have it much simpler: flip open our laptop, snuggle into an easy chair, and pull up our trees on

If I pull up one of my trees and click on the "All Hints" category, I can mindlessly delete (in other words, "ignore") all the entries I already know I'd never use. Don't like including other subscribers' trees in my own work? Click "ignore" and poof! They're gone. Discover I'm not really appreciating the recent data dump of all those obituary teasers with nothing more helpful than a couple unverifiable names? Ignore. Don't want to include all those member-submitted photos of "Nana's green room" in my own records? Ignore.

My largest tree on currently has nearly fifty thousand hints, most of which are items I wouldn't even consider adding to my ancestors' profiles. Census records, marriage records, wills and death records, sure—but since I include all the collateral lines for each generation, I've got to stick to the basic verification tools. The nice frills have got to go. Even that photo of Nana's green room.

Of course, this is the type of drudgery we seldom like to tackle, so my to-do list here always builds up. But on days when I don't have the energy—or the inclination—to do anything productive, there is something therapeutically cathartic about a mindless click-to-ignore process like this. Sometimes, we just need to get some spring cleaning done—even if it isn't spring, yet.

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