This year, maybe more than ever, we all look forward to a new year. It will soon be a year since I had a meal in a restaurant with friends, had family or friends inside my house, or even left the house for anything other than necessities. But I’m well, and so is my mother who lives with me. And I’m thankful for that.
Phone calls, Hangouts, and Zooms replaced in-person contact with family and friends in 2020. We’re so lucky technology keeps us connected to the world outside our homes. Front porch visits by close family with Mom and me inside behind the glass storm door are now the norm, but it doesn’t feel normal.
Even before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, 2020 wasn’t getting off to the best start for me. In January, I got mammogram results that required a biopsy which led to breast cancer surgery the first week of February and radiation treatments during March. (Pathology report was excellent. I’m fine.) By the time I finished up radiation on the 25th, it was already clear that the virus would deprive me of a celebration trip for at least a few months. (I’m still waiting.)
2020 is over. With vaccine distribution started, we have hope of returning to something resembling normal life. Not just yet, probably not for a good chunk of 2021. But hang on, it’s coming.
With over nine months trapped in the house, did I get lots of genealogy work done? The honest answer is not as much as I wanted. The research I most wanted to do required travel, which was out of the question. But I made progress on a few families, did some writing, and made plans for this website for 2021.
A New Look
To celebrate surviving 2020, a little website re-decorating seemed in order. The logo is the same, but the colors changed to bold from the previous pastels and the new font has flair. I’ve made a few other tweaks, like moving the main menu to the top of the page and changing the title and header fonts.
For years, I’ve thought about adding a family tree to this website. My first website (launched in 2007) had one, but I didn’t add that feature when I switched to WordPress in 2014. A few WordPress plugins for that purpose exist, but I kept putting off adding one. Eventually, I realized I don’t want a tree. What I want is the stories in a more static format than blog posts.
Over a year ago, I decided to start writing what I’ve learned about my ancestors and their children, even though I’m not “finished” with most (any) of them. Even though that was on my to-do list in the 27 December 2019 post titled “10 Years: Looking Back and Ahead,” I got little done on it until November. I used NaNoWriMo to jump start the website writing and drafted nearly 30,000 words toward that end during November.
I plan to add these biographies throughout the year. My paternal grandmother’s parents, Thomas Leander Hankins and Samantha Angeline Petty, will be first, coming later this month. A short blog post will introduce each set of bios so that subscribers receive notification when new content is published. If you haven’t subscribed, you can do so by entering your name and email in the “Subscribe by Email” section on the sidebar.
Once added, you will find these biographies under “Family Tree” on the main menu, then under the sub-menus for each of my grandparents. The menu items will be “Bio: [Names].” Bios for the couple’s children will be included. Each family’s stories will also be available in a print friendly downloadable PDF for anyone who would like a copy. The whole point of this is to share the stories.
The “This Week in the Family History” series for 2020 ended this week. I plan to keep up a weekly photo post, but I won’t feature a weekly blog series in 2021. I have a few blog posts started and some ideas for others, but my focus for this year will be those biographies rather than blogging.
I also mentioned a year ago in “10 Years: Looking Back and Ahead” that I’m writing a book. That is still in progress. I added over 40,000 words to the now 100,000+ word rough draft manuscript during 2020. I still have a few small pieces of research to do, but they all require travel so will have to wait.
In the meantime, I have some work left to do on a few chapters before the rough draft is ready for a major edit that will turn it into the first draft of a book about my paternal grandfather’s life. Because of the book, bios for my grandfather, his parents, and his siblings won’t be added to the website any time soon.
Happy New Year!
May 2021 find us all healthy and happy.