Here we are, not as in olden days. It’s the twenty-first century and we have all of these devices that make it possible to be in many places at the same time. With my family far flung—virtually all of my closest relatives have departed in some way or another—we earthlings can all be somewhere else, yet still be together, thanks to technology.
For her first Thanksgiving away from home, Candace—living in Washington, DC—still managed to share Thanksgiving dinner with us in 2009. Because my family tends to stick with traditional meals and menus, it was no surprise that my sister Mindy—also in the DC area—and I had prepared the same Thanksgiving menu. She served hers at lunchtime, Candace was invited and, of course, took leftovers home.
That evening when we sat down for Thanksgiving dinner in Lafayette with my sister Elizabeth and her family who live in Houston, Candace was virtually at the table. There she was beaming through on Skype and we all enjoyed the same meal together—our fresh cooked, hers leftovers—and took a family photo. Odd, I must admit, that one person in the photo is actually the screen shot of a laptop.
In 2010, when Caroline and Eric were in the midst of their nuptial celebrations, we set up a special table at a brunch hosted by New Iberia friends. The table was for the laptop and Candace was in attendance for most of the party and I believe she visited with all of the guests. Yes, it was weird watching people go over to talk with her and hearing her call people over to chat.
In 2011, because we anticipated that no one could actually attend a baby shower for our daughter Caroline, someone hosted a virtual baby shower. There were actually no two people gathered in the same place. Caroline and hubby Eric had started a new life—no pun intended—in Denver. I was in the middle of nowhere in the country side of France. Candace was in DC, Crawford was in Lafayette and other friends were in Baton Rouge. Despite the disparity of our locales—to say nothing of time zones—there we were , all together, sharing oohs and aahs as each gift was unwrapped.
Shortly after the virtual baby shower, two mom friends and I hosted a bridal shower to honor Candace’s friend Karen. Candace was in attendance, again by Skype. There she was, sitting on the lap of my co-host Loraine Todd, beaming through on a lap top. Not sure we carried her online presence outside for the pinata-bashing, though.
Crawford turned 30 and we held a family birthday party online, complete with party hats and disguises, thanks to Google's video chat, which has these clever little add-ons. It was the only way that we could all be in the same cloud at the same time to mark his new decade. Quite a happy day, I’d say.
When we celebrated the 90th birthday of Conrad’s mom, Effie Comeaux, there was a handful of grandchildren and other relatives who could not make it in. No problem. We set up the laptop right behind the birthday cake and in flew the virtual presences of those loved ones. The Michigan people even gathered in the same distant location, with a cupcake sporting a birthday candle, and we all sang “Happy Birthday” and blew out candles together.
These are only instances. The miles apart from my family and friends are a little less torturous and it’s possible to keep tabs on the ever-changing persona of our grandson, Stephen. Our video conferencing opens with my theme song, “She’ll be Coming Around the Mountain,”—they do live in the Rocky Mountains, after all—and closes with “Goodnight, Sweetheart.” I’ve sung those two songs to him since he was born and he can now sing along!
Yes, it’s virtually impossible to imagine my life without this technological treat and I’m so happy that all that’s left to my imagination is when we’ll meet up again.