Genealogy is time-consuming, fun, difficult and addictive. In my case, it’s also pretty solitary. Do the dead and distantly-related matter compared to my living, breathing, loving family at home? Let’s be quite clear. NO! Ancestors don’t matter at all in comparison to …
My wee, real family.
So much more than genealogical birth-marriage-death (BMD), but, of course, without the B&M, no families! As for D: we are all here at the time of writing, but it’s a D for all of us, in the end, in an unpredictable order. Let’s ignore that, and stay in the land of the living.
At our family’s heart, and in mine, is my darling wife Kirsty. We are linked in so many more ways than just marriage and children. Some of our family history connections going beyond ancestry appear in this website, but mostly, our synergy is just for us. I can’t sufficiently put it into words, but here’s my dedication:
Kirsty xx. All these births, marriages and deaths make me think about you and me. Abstractly, I feel astonishingly fortunate to have met you, way back then. I am grateful just for your very existence. The serendipity and synchronicity: I am so lucky. At a personal level, I am massively grateful to you for all your support, for your love and care, and how you continually make our marriage better. I love you to bits. And on top of that, without you, I’d not have had my career or children. What’s the point? You are.
And boys xx xx. Our lovely kids. You are wonderful. We both love you forever.
All the wee family’s known ancestors are in my database offline, with distant cousins and in-laws. Many appear here, as well as some of our big extended family (for whom these blogs are a written resource).
To finish, it is the end of 2020. A memorable year. To my wee family… it’s not because we are so closely related that you three matter so much to me; it’s not because you are closer than anyone else in the genealogy. It’s because of you who are, as individuals. I just happen to know you particularly well because I have spent my adult life with you. I love you because you are each so warm, clever, funny and admirable. I am so very so proud of each one of you, and grateful for everything.
Why I Blog
A few opinions, and lots of facts. The research process is fun and often challenging. Ultimately, all the trails run cold. But for me, as a professional research scientist, one of the charms of family history is that there are lots of correct answers waiting to be found. And, how can I resist adding some meaning, speculation, and a moral or two.
The Biggest Family
Family histories are insignificant fragments of the universe. But these are our fragments. You, reader, have your own skelf of cosmos. Importantly, we connect and overlap. Every human, every animal, everything living: we connect. Big Family.
We experience our lives as they unfold, for good or ill. And our time is running out from the moment of our birth. So why have I put so little of my own precious Wee Family here? Why so many opinions about generalities and names and dates of long-dead relatives? Because the Wee Family are too busy living! Memo: I need to join them more.
Identity and Perspective
Yet, being alive is not all there is to life. Indeed, Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Family history is one way for me to examine myself, to understand how identity is partly shaped by context and partly independent of arbitrary events. Members of the Big Family are easier to identify with than complete strangers. We could be them. They could be us. We are the same, but different. These stories are the skeleton for believable unwritten fiction, letting me fill in the gaps. That’s how family history can help us work out who we are.
Facts and Stories
Many strings of facts on the site act like a trail of breadcrumbs, to attract fellow family historians who are out there searching, hunting. They are extracted from my database and documents. As it happens, I’m rotten at recalling names and dates, so writing this all down helps a lot. But mainly, I love reading stories. I am able to re-read my own blogs, and be surprised. But I am aware I am only a tenth-rate story-teller, and I live in awe of talented novelists and film-makers. Someone else could, I am sure, polish up the shining gems hiding in these stories. They could bring the lives to life. Meantime, I’ll continue writing, and having fun, however clunky the end results. There’s great stuff out there, and I will try to make it enjoyable and useful.