Even if you're not the type who makes New Year Resolutions, use this time of year to put together some goals for your family history research.
You may be spending a few hours with living relatives so get talking about what they know about the family and ask if they are able to identify any photos you have in your own collection. An unidentified photograph is the bane of a family historian's life.
If your relatives are actively involved in family history, get to know them better and make plans to meet and share information. They may even offer you copies of their photos or news reports. There's no time like the present.
Join a local family history society or start going to the family history library near you. People are usually very helpful and if it is new territory for you, volunteers will explain what is available and offer suggestions as to your research. It's worth attending talks, even if the topic is nothing to do with your own research, because inspiration may well strike as you listen to another person's ideas.
Check internet for any sign of books about your ancestor/s, or even books written by them. Often publications like these are out of print but there are people who specialise in finding copies of such books. Some may be available in their entirety on internet. Context is important so look for books about the era in which the ancestor lived, or the occupation he practised. What did he/she wear? Was their life comfortable or wretched? Is their residence marked on a map? Did an artist ever paint their house? Were they a settled family living in a certain district for many years? Or did they move about, perhaps in search of employment?
We all know by now (well, I hope we do) that there's more to family history than just names and dates. In this New Year, resolve to become the historian, the keeper of the family stories, collecting information, writing it down, preserving it. It is bound to add depth to your family history.
Most importantly, take the time to organise what you've already found out. Collate it in a publication for the family, start a blog to discuss the ancestry and share knowledge with others. Make sure that your descendants can easily access your lifetime's work when you're no longer here to answer their questions. Pass the flame on to your children and grandchildren so that there is continuity. They might not be all that keen now but believe me they will come to it as they get older and how grateful they'll be for your efforts.