Feel Good

Use Virtual Holiday Time to Create Something as a Family

December 15, 2020

You’re likely feeling bummed out that, because of the pandemic, you’re not able to get together physically with your extended family this holiday season. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize the health of your aging parents or other relatives. But you don’t want them to feel abandoned either, especially this time of year.

So, what can you do to inject life into virtual holiday gatherings?

Well, you can create something together as a family that will continue to have meaning long after the pandemic is history. Here are some project ideas.

Create an oral history

This is a great way to capture not just your family’s stories but the personalities of the people telling them.

In her article, “Grief and Oral History: Keeping Memories Alive,” Litsa Williams describes her regret over not recording the voices and stories of her late relatives while they were still alive.

That said, creating an oral history isn’t some morbid exercise. In fact, the person you’re recording will likely appreciate the opportunity to talk about memorable moments in their life and have them recorded for posterity.

In this time when Zoom and FaceTime have become commonplace in our physically-distanced lives, recording these conversations is a simple matter.

Williams offers tips on getting organized, deciding what questions to ask, recording and editing calls, and interviewing family members with memory loss.

Create a shared family photo album

Have you ever had the experience of looking through a family album and discovering you don’t recognize half the people in it or know where or when a lot of the photos were taken? Now is the perfect opportunity to assemble a shared photo album that contains notes answering just those sorts of questions.

Start by collecting favourite photos from different members of your family. If some are print photos, scan them so that can be stored digitally.

Ask each person to identify who’s in every photo as well as where and when they were taken. Record their answers in writing.

If you come across “mystery photos” with unknown people or locations, circulate them electronically among your family to see if anyone can provide more information.

You’ll find plenty of options for creating free online photo albums.

A family video calling at Christmas time
Video calls are here to stay, bringing families together from near and far

Assemble a collection of family recipes

Food is an important part of the holidays. And while we can’t enjoy a big festive meal this year, we can still shine a light on the foods that hold a special place in our family’s hearts.

Family Tree Magazine discusses how to successfully share family recipes, including strategies for collecting and sharing them. These recipes can be assembled in a family cookbook or in a scrapbook (along with other memorabilia, including photos and written comments or stories).

How these sorts of projects can help during downsizing

If someone you know is in the process of downsizing, these sorts of projects may help them process and preserve the many memories they may unearth as they sift through the belongings.

Should they need additional help with downsizing, including finding the right senior living community for them in the Ottawa area, our advisors at Tea and Toast are happy to help.

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