By Sid Fey, Founder, Love Is A Rose
Getting together as a family in 2020 is complicated. This global COVID pandemic is putting a damper on large gatherings such as weddings, funerals and family reunions. And that’s a problem: family is an important building block of our well-being.
Through thick and thin, my family always has my back, and I have theirs. If you’re reading this, I hope you appreciate the importance of your own family in your life. Whether you are born into a large loving family, or create one of your choosing…that family is precious.
While government guidance has us limiting in-person visiting, it’s still important to connect in meaningful ways. We humans need each other.
Experts say that loneliness isn’t just a problem for the elderly. Young people face significant health problems from social isolation, which can be as harmful as smoking, obesity or heart disease.
But here’s one difference between loneliness and heart disease: you don’t need a big budget or to visit a hospital to cure it.
If we all strengthen our family ties – by reaching out to our nieces and nephews, to our grandparents, to our honorary aunties, and to our old college roommates or fellow army vets – we can build every person’s health and well-being.
We may not be able to share a hug right now, but sharing stories, some virtual face-to-face time, or a simple “Hello, I’m thinking about you!” can be just as powerful.
Here are some ways to celebrate family during the COVID pandemic:
1. Create a family newsletter
Some families write a handwritten letter, put it in a large manilla envelope, and send it to the next family, who adds their story, and so on. You can include photographs and drawings. Even the youngest members can add their story in their own handwriting.
Others might create a private Facebook group, text chat, Snapchat group or email list.
However you do it, keep it simple.
2. Share a family celebration list
Survey everyone for special dates like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, upcoming graduation dates and retirements, along with addresses and phone numbers for calls, texts and snail mail congratulations. Be sure no one misses out on being celebrated.
3. Plan regular socially distanced get-togethers
If you’re lucky to live in the same neighborhood, go ahead and meet with masks and hand sanitizer the first Sunday of the month or whatever time is good for you.
More geographically distant families can Zoom or Google Chat to their heart’s content.
Sing, dance, tik tok or do spoken word. Charades and Pictionary could work too. We haven’t figured out how to play poker over Zoom yet, but if you figure out a way, let me know!
4. Create a family tree
Tracing family ancestry has been a popular new hobby during COVID. But even creating a simple family tree of two or three generations will help create a sense of family cohesiveness.
Whether you order one of our handcrafted family trees or frame a simple handmade one, displaying a family tree can be a powerful, daily reminder that family is precious.
Just look at Betty’s expression in the photo above. She had just discovered a family tree inside a gift box…that smile is pure joy.
5. Write a family cookbook
During the pandemic, people are cooking more than ever, and that means they are looking for recipes! Food is one of the most basic markers of family culture. Beans, rice and greens. Spaghetti and meatballs. Chicken and curry.
These distinctive flavors conjure cherished memories and deep feelings of love and comfort.
If your army unit was stationed in a particular state or country, create a cookbook of remembered foods. If your family is your residential block, create a neighborhood cookbook of family-friendly recipes.
Some final thoughts on nurturing your family relationships during COVID: keep it simple so everyone can participate. And keep it fun. We all need more joy in our lives right now. So approach these touchpoints with a sense of warmth and love.