We're four months and two hundred eighty two million vaccine doses into the year—at least in the United States—and people are yearning to get back to normal. Beyond yearning: desperate to be able to meet, face to face.
It's almost as if everyone's new theme song is, "When will I see you again?"
Face it: the weather's brightening up, people are hoping to travel again—or at least meet outside for lunch or a cup of coffee with friends.
Even Zoom events at our genealogical society meetings are tinged with that melancholy theme song. Although partly because our April society meeting included an excellent speaker on a necessary topic, it seemed no one wanted to say goodbye after the presentation was over. People just hung around to chat. We miss each other.
With millions of vaccine doses administered—recent CDC stats indicate at least eighty percent of the retirement age segment of the nation's population has been covered with one dose of the vaccine, and at least two thirds of that same group with both doses—one would expect to see signs of returning to in-person activity.
A recent peek at upcoming genealogical events at the go-to website, ConferenceKeeper.org, doesn't reveal many indications of societies returning to face-to-face meetings. Even those meetings in upcoming months lacking the "V" for virtual events, upon closer examination, turn out to be hosted by teleconferencing means.
Still, despite warnings of travel restrictions due to pandemic surges, there are signs of change. In my city, the local library has begun opening their doors, though only for tightly restricted activities; our society volunteers may return to do obituary lookups via microfilm readers, but only if they maintain social distancing at all times, wear a mask, and leave the facility within thirty minutes. Other centers are cautiously beginning to open, as well—usually for strictly limited times and services.
I tried searching online to see whether anyone from other societies had begun a dialog on this hope we are all harboring—this yearning to return to normal. Oddly, the only items I could find online were hopeful articles written nearly a year ago—a laughable thought, considering how premature it seemed to see writers wondering, last June, what genealogy research would look like, post-COVID-19. How little we suspected, back then, that we'd have yet another year of waiting ahead of us.
I found it a promising sign to spot Gena Philibert-Ortega's article from last November in the Legacy News blog, asking "What did your society do differently during the pandemic?" and inquiring about societies' plans for the upcoming year. While I missed that post when it first appeared, I would appreciate seeing that topic brought up once again. Hopefully, this year, asking societies to reflect on their experience gained—and what to do next—will not seem as premature as such topics did, when they were brought up a year ago.