It's that time of year – so much holiday hustle and bustle – parties, musical events, getting in touch with friends, and -- dare I say it -- shopping. Sort of puts genealogical research on the back burner -- temporarily.
If you are going to be seeing family members, do think ahead of some questions to ask. Not just the obvious ones, but some that will give your family history more depth. These are good conversation-starters, and will often elicit reminiscences about events you had never heard of. For example: What was your school like? Do you remember your first day? Any favorite teachers? Why? Do you know what became of any of your classmates? What did you do for summer vacation? Who was your favorite relative? [You might want to record you own answers to these same questions sometime.]
If there are aunts, uncles or cousins around, ask each one about own his/her own recollections. Often siblings will have quite different views of the same piece of family history. Were there weddings? Who attended, and what were the highlights? Are there skeletons someone may now be willing to bring out into the light? Something that seemed scandalous at the time may turn out to be pretty tame by today's standards, but still plenty interesting.
You will probably find that just one or two queries, showing your genuine interest, will get the ball rolling. Then, LISTEN. How many times have we all expressed our regrets for not having listened to our older kin when we had the chance? This may be your last chance among those still here (and if it's not, you can come back for more). You have the opportunity to glean some nuggets of family lore, and those offering it will have the pleasure of reminiscing for an appreciative audience.
Much time spent on getting used to the new Mac laptop. As I reported earlier, it was a snap to transfer genealogical data from my bare-bones Personal Ancestral File program (PAF) on the PC to Mac's Reunion program on the laptop. Starting with a small file I had set up for so-far-unrelated lines, I followed the recommendation first to save it as a GEDCOM file to my PC's hard drive, then burn that to a compact disc. Moving the CD to the new laptop, I was able to retrieve the data and Reunion knew just how to handle it. I never fail to be amazed (and delighted) when these things actually work!
Next, I decided to use PAF's "Focus" feature to pick out a family line which, though part of my big main file, is really separate from my own ancestry. (My great-grandmother's first husband's quite remarkable family) It, too, succeeded. Oh joy.
The laptop works beautifully at the local library, allowing wireless access to Ancestry.com without time restrictions. [According to the recent Sonoma County Library newsletter, History and Genealogy Librarian Tony Hoskins is available for private tutorials on how to make the best use of Ancestry.com. These are held in Santa Rosa, and may be scheduled by calling 545-0831, ext. 562.]
Enjoy your holidays!