Friday, December 23, 2011

Sharing Christmas with Far-Away Family

This will be the first Christmas that we won't be spending with any of our family. To say that we're disappointed is an understatement. Initially, I was worried that Christmas wouldn't feel quite as special this year but our kids are at an age this year where they're finally understanding the magic of the season. Our own Christmas morning will be fantastic, but we also want our family to feel included if at all possible. Here is how we are trying to bring our family to us.

We bought an HDMI cable so that our TV can be turned into a giant webcam. 

We Skype on our computers all the time, but our kids constantly compete for the camera (they love to watch themselves on the screen) and our youngest likes to push buttons on the laptop. On Christmas morning, I don't want to worry about the kids each getting a turn or my laptop taking a beating. With an HDMI cable, we can tuck my laptop away somewhere while we run Skype on the big screen of the TV and a separate webcam can be put anywhere for the best angle (and to be kept away from little hands).

We are taking full advantage of Skype capabilities. 

Skype is amazing. All of our family uses it and we've got 4 different family members that are wanting to Skype at some point on Christmas morning. We have considered setting up more than one computer so that several family members can have views all over the living room and can Skype at the same time. But there are also other options. I checked into Skype Premium yesterday and while I don't think we're ready to pay a monthly subscription, Skype does offer a single-day pass for $4.99. This would give us the option of Skyping with more than one family member on the same computer, at the same time. We could view more than one Skype call on our TV without having to set up multiple computers. Our living room is going to be a mess on Christmas morning and the thought of having random computers set up throughout the room doesn't make me feel very cheery.

I'm going to make an effort to get pictures and video to family as soon as I can that day. 

As a child, I remember waking up on Christmas morning and waiting in my room until everything was ready for my sisters and I to run into the living room and see all the presents from Santa. I would hear my dad fumbling around with the video camera, my mom turning on the Christmas music and both of them excitedly trying to hurry back to us. Now, it's my turn. I'm going to get the video camera set up at the perfect angle to capture the girls' faces when they see their gifts from Santa - even if grandparents are watching from the TV too. It may be a little inconvenient to try and take pictures throughout the morning, but I want our family to feel involved in our little girls' lives. If that means I'm blinding my children with the flash and making a giant "to-do" list with all the emails I need to send and blog posts to write, then so be it. Our family means to the world to us, even if we are worlds apart.

I hope that you all have a great Christmas and enjoying the sharing the holiday with your family, whether in person or through a screen. Merry Christmas!!

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