At the end of each month I take out the big 3 ring binder, open it up and turn to one of the twelve months. This month it is August. The first page has names and dates and photos – all birthdays or anniversaries. Some are crossed out, friends that have gone on to other things and I no longer keep in contact with through postal mail. Others are crossed out because their time on earth is done. The ones that are left have been there for years except, there are always exceptions, the ones that are freshly entered with pen or pencil. These are not just dates and people. They are memories. They are connections, real connections to real people. Yet, …
Why bother, I ask myself? Why bother with cards that have to be mailed – especially in this technologically related age? Do they send me cards on my birthday or anniversary?, only less than I can count on one hand. So why take the time every month to do it?
Three years after I started this I was ready to give up. No one wrote back to me and no one sent me any birthday cards or anniversary cards. My connection was one way and I didn’t even know if anyone liked getting them or wanted them or if they were just laughing at me. Until that one day, three years later, I got a letter from a cousin I had not met in person. It was a thank you for always remembering them and wanting to know how we were related, though they knew we were cousins. Then a couple years after that I got another letter, a friend of the family, apologizing for not writing sooner, and thanking me for the thoughtful cards. Later a call came from a relative telling me how much it means to them to be remembered with a card in the postal mail. Nobody does that anymore and it sure is nice to receive.
Sometimes you don’t do it for the gratification of it. You do it, because you know how you would feel to receive such a card, so you do it for that person. So at the end of each month, or the beginning of each month, I prepare all the cards and mail them out. Some will be really early, some will be just on time, and if I am late, there are always the belated cards I send out. For a brief moment, in the crazy busy world we live in today, for that brief moment I was able to give to someone else, the gift of a real connection.
How does this relate to genealogy? Genealogy is about your family roots. Making connections to the past and present. Opening up doors for discovery and linking your journey to your ancestors and descendants. What a great way to make those connections and open up the present to learn more about your family. The photo above shows a writing case with letters and cards in it, letters and cards that help chronicle an ancestors life and those that they were connected with. Who is saving your letters and cards, better yet, whose letters and cards are you saving?
Whose birthday is in your family for the month of August? Is there someone across the U.S.A. or the world that you can connect with?