December 22nd, 2013 by Liz Francese
My grandma occasionally calls me indecent names when I forget to call or miss a family get-together. The berating is really a gesture of love (like when she noticed my jeans started fitting a bit tight and she slid the store-bought cookies in my direction) and it really just means she wants me around more often. I don’t miss these occasions out of preference for hanging out with my mean cat, but the three hour commute from Vermont to Rhode Island often deters my ability to swing by on a moment’s notice.
As our family grows larger it is more and more difficult to track down every member for my once in a blue moon trips to the Ocean State. During the holiday season, I can sometimes feel like I’m missing out or even experience a bit of guilt when I miss a get-together. This year, however, I’ve found new ways to connect and enjoy my family; I hope others can use these resources to connect with theirs as well!
First on my agenda this year was getting my new address out to everyone, either directly or by reporting it to the family bulletin board… aka Mom. This way I can be sure to receive photos and cards in the mail. Then, as my co-workers pass by and admire the dimple-dotted cheeks of my nephews and nieces, I can quietly brag about how inevitably cute my future offspring will be.
I only hung my lights this past week so I can’t honestly say I am sending out cards this year. Besides, without kids, who really cares to see my mug on the front of a cutesie shutterfly Christmas card? In all seriousness though, this will certainly be first on my list next year-with or without little feetsie-toed babes.
iPhone Photo Library
My brother also has a telecommuting relationship with my family and, given my grandma’s warm embrace of his every visit, it’s pretty obvious he is better at keeping up with the fam’ than I am. This year, as he adopted his first iPhone, he found yet another way to reinforce the bond: a shared photo library. From the erecting of my parent’s Christmas tree to Gingerbread house decorating and cookie baking, we have shared Christmas moments across distances. We can even send comments and “like” each other’s photos; it’s like a themed, personalized Facebook without all of the ads or other “friends” peering in.
This old, by tech standards, tool works great for those spreading themselves a bit thin this holiday season. After all, each family has at least two sides and when the kids get older, it is common they start dividing their holiday time among their newly formed families. Skype is also great for those with loved ones serving with the military abroad, or working that indecently long yet eloquently paid Christmas shift at the hospital.
Is Skype a bit much for you? Shoot a quick video on your phone or, better yet, give your relatives a call. If you’re lucky, you’ll be put on speaker phone so you can talk to everyone at once.
Eventually, you’ve just got to go visit. Whether or not you can make it on the big day, coming for a short stay in recognition of the holidays is just as valid. If you want to take it a step further, invite everyone to your little visit, like my brother Frank did by hosting Franksgiving. When he knew he would be spending Thanksgiving with his significant other’s parents, he created a whole holiday for himself. The shindig turned into an opportunity for all of our loved ones, especially those with other Thanksgiving plans, to join us at the kitchen table.