My latest obsession is family history research.
I always suspected I would not only enjoy it but be very good at it... if I could only figure out how to get started. It was overwhelming, since I come from one of those families where so much research has already been done. I was going to have to be some kind of an expert to do any new research on my direct line. I liked the idea of becoming that expert, but not at this stage of my life. Someday...
In recent years I have had many people tell me "there's so much you can do! Just dive in and do it!" "You'll be so blessed!" "I know we moms are so busy, but when you work on family history you receive blessings that will actually make your load lighter." And I would always think "I WANT to do that... but... how?"
Several weeks ago I got on the Family Search website and just started looking around. I thought maybe I could find some new documents to attach to some of my ancestors. They're indexing new records all the time, so there were probably some new things to add. It wouldn't be as exciting as finding brand new links to people, but it would be helpful.
I noticed that Great Uncle Harold had a marriage certificate that could be attached to his profile. When I attached it, I found that it contained the names of his wife's parents, who were not even in the Family Search system. I was dumbfounded... surely someone had put these puzzle pieces together before? I did a quick search on these people and-- boom!-- I was looking at a picture of their gravestone. And there was additional information to add, including an additional person who was not on Family Search. Until I added them.
I don't know when I have had such a high. What a thrill, to discover new branches of the family tree!
That particular line dead-ended at that point, but I was hooked. I could do new research and find people!!!! I started looking on collateral lines on my ancestry and I have found no end of research to be done.
I quickly realized that I was born to do this work. I love family history. I love puzzles. I love the internet. I love organizing. I love solving problems. I love getting absorbed in solitary projects for hours and hours. I see clearly now that family history is one of my main callings in life.
I went a bit nuts for awhile... I was working on family history every spare minute I had. It was more productive than Facebook or reading novels or almost any other leisure activity I enjoy. Sometimes it went beyond leisure time... the dishes and laundry would get a bit backed up because I was piecing together a family.
I have calmed down a bit now (see, I'm blogging again!) but I haven't quit and I'm not going to. I believe in life after death. I believe that the souls of these people-- who now are just names and dates in a census or cemetery record-- are very much alive, and they want to be found. They want to be linked together with their families. All my life I have been reading stories about people doing family history, talking about how they felt the influence of those beyond the veil. Now I have felt it for myself. They need my help and they are urging me on. Let the laundry pile. It can wait a bit.
It blows me away how amazing it is. People used to have to spend hours and hours walking through cemeteries or searching through records in the county courthouse. They would send away for microfilms and when they finally came, search and search only to not find what they were looking for and have to start over again. My aunt and my grandma did family history this way, and I can just imagine them saying, "LOOK at you!!!!! LYING IN BED with your laptop computer and within seconds being able to find so much. All while your washing machine and dishwasher slosh away and your crockpot cooks dinner." We have the free time (yes, even I have some free time!) and we have these unbelievable resources. And there's this totally fun, addictive, exciting thing to do that actually matters in the eternal scheme of things! Just, WOW.