Today’s Tip: Consider paying it forward, it’ll pay you back!
The idea of Paying It Forward, made famous in the 2000 Kevin Spacey movie, is one I really like. Today I am here to say that I personally believe that there is NO ONE in the world who should consider Paying It Forward more than us genealogists.
We, perhaps more than anyone, are reliant on the past, but saluting the future with our work.
As genealogists we have one foot sliding around in the past, one foot firmly in the present, and an eye always towards the future in wondering what the future generations might think of, or do with, or how they will appreciate and utilize, our important family history work.
Our ancestors paid it forward without perhaps knowing it. They filled out their census forms out of civic duty. But they paid it forward to us by filling it out at all! Some of your families perhaps paid it forward with a family Bible. (Alas, mine did not, as they were Free Thinkers.) Some of our ancestors paid it forward with tintypes, photographs, journals, letters, gravestones, and stories in the newspapers. Some of our ancestors paid it forward with a will. Even if we did not inherit any money, real estate, or goods, we inherited a document, often legally signed and notarized, that left us family names and a glimpse of the departed’s life.
I keep this in mind as I do my work. Every so often, I pay it forward to a family member or volunteer who I know. Not as a thank you, but simply as a small gift to brighten their day and let them know how deeply they are appreciated for simply being a part of what I view as my very important process. Often it is a note or email. Sometimes a phone call. Sometimes something else. I’ve been known to surprise with flowers, a Starbucks card, a few cookies (Tom’s Mom’s out of Harbor Springs, Michigan are the World’s best cookies) or my current weakness, Edible Arrangements.
These small paying it forward efforts have always been appreciated. Sometimes in silence and sometimes much later, soemtimes with tears, but always appreciated.
Better than being appreciated, each time it lifted my heart, my soul, and my outlook to a slightly more positive place. It energized me! It fortified me! It strengthened me!
Since our ancestors were busy (even if they didn’t know it) paying it forward for us, I figure I darn well better return the favor!
What better way to hope for a brickwall breakthrough!
Onward To Our Past,