Child #2 tells me I am a genealogy addict. I counter with my attendance of meetings, ostensibly looking for a cure. Child patiently explains the concept of 12 step programs; they are supposed to help one kick a habit, not provide another fix.
After some thought, I developed my own 12 Step Program. Rather than looking for a “cure”, it focuses on encouraging my family to help me find just one more ancestor.
Step 1: When dinner conversation turns to county boundary changes (after nonchalantly steering the family in this direction), share no more than two stories of ancestors impacted by the change.
Step 2: If asked who the new baby looks like, answer using only the names of same-gender ancestors. Share photos when your opinion is met with rolling eyes.
Step 3: Offer to help with grandchildren’s homework, especially history and geography. Casually include information about ancestors who lived in these times and places. Stop talking when you hear your child’s footsteps approaching.
Step 4: Discreetly insert photos of ancestors in baby books, holiday photo albums etc. Act surprised when your children point out the impossibility of a Revolutionary soldier at last Thanksgiving’s dinner.
Step 5: Carry important papers everywhere. One never knows when a 1910 census will come in handy during a lull in the conversation.
Step 6: Make copies of family group sheets and “forget” one every time you visit.
Step 7: Plan vacations that coincidentally (how was I to know?) include the final resting places of ancestors.
Step 8: Help with the purchase of new school clothes for the grandkids. Authentic period costumes can be found on many web sites.
Step 9: Ask everyone everywhere about their ethnic origin. When in the company of children and grandchildren, prompt them to share theirs with store clerks, softball coaches, postal employees, directory assistance operators…
Step 10: While at the corner market, point out the simplicity of purchasing food in “these modern times”. Tell stories of ancestors carrying shotguns into a nearby forest to pick up the evening meal.
Step 11: Offer to drive the grandkids home from school. Take a different route each time so those cemetery visits don’t seem redundant.
Step 12: Take steps to create lifelong addicts genealogists in the next few generations by openly sharing your love of family history with the family who is creating their own history today.