My favorite memories are of my Grandmother and one particular Aunt. Living only 30 minutes away from Grandpa and Grandma meant I spent a lot of time with them. She taught me how to bake, he taught me all about farming, putting out the salt licks for the deer, amusing yourself without television and just being a kind and thoughtful person. I loved those early days, they had no indoor toilet and no garbage cans everything was put to compost in the old silo pit.
But oh, how the generations, have changed. Our family is living on an island, literally and figuratively. The grandmas and grandpa are in Florida, Aunts and Uncles are in Michigan and Washington. Everyone is geographically separated by miles. Other than the occasional photo at the holiday or perhaps the last bunch of new school pictures, we barely see each other let alone speak to one another. And with the expense of travel and attempting to schedule time off from work and school, we just never seem to get together except once a year. (Sometimes that’s a good thing though.) Close family friends are just as isolated as busy schedules make it nearly impossible to meet on a regular basis. So how do you instill the value of family and that unique sense of togetherness? Well I use social media tools but try to be creative about it.
I have a huge love of Facebook. Not just for posting photos and all the expected things one does on Facebook but for the applications. I tell real stories about Grandpa while sitting next to my daughter while she builds her virtual farm on Farmville. It’s such a great way to instill family into a contemporary setting and something she loves. We do vocabulary on freerice.com while we pile up rice to give hungry people around the world. It’s great for SAT vocabulary practice as well. I play Wordscraper with my daughter and with friends. We give the family free front row seats to videos of performances on YouTube or Facebook. The family can attend virtual concerts by listening to my son’s original music on MySpace. And the best part is they can have the option of turning down the volume. I’ve even heard some of my kid’s friends say, “Your Mom’s pretty cool.” Can you believe that?