I grew up in a family of tightness. It started with my grandmother’s generation – whose family had a family reunion every 2 years. Specific families would take turns hosting the bi-annual tradition, luring relatives far and wide to attend the 3-day event in various parts of the country. When we weren’t attending a family reunion, it only took the slightest excuse for families to get together for large, mostly pot-luck, meals. It became nearly impossible for anyone to go a few months without seeing your aunts, uncles, and cousins.
When my grandmother’s generation were unable to continue maintaining the connection (due to aging or other reasons), it fell upon my mother’s generation – which dropped the ball. Those reunions ceased to happen, while seeing those aunts, uncles, and cousins were limited to weddings and funerals. That familial connection became limited to the annual Christmas card and form letter.
A few years ago, I noticed even the annual Christmas card was no longer being observed. Fewer folks were sending out cards – relying on places like Facebook to maintain that family connection (even though a majority of folks weren’t on Facebook). While technology has made connecting with others faster and cheaper (the rising cost of postage is enough to deter regular snail mail correspondence), there is a loss of relationship that is rising with the increased reliance on technology (and social media). This year, my mother and I vowed to make a change.
In an effort to regain that connection with aunts, uncles, and cousins, we decided we would not limit the outreach to only Christmas cards. Instead, we would send out birthday cards. When we heard of a cousin being sick, we would send them a “get well” card. “Thinking of you” cards would be a regular post, while anniversaries will also be observed.
We’re two months into this special project, and we’ve already found great success. A cousin we haven’t seen or heard from for over 10 years (since her mother’s funeral), wrote us after receiving her birthday card. Another cousin, who we haven’t seen in at least 6 years, send us a card when we sent him a “Thinking of You” card.
While this project is still in the beginning stages, we’re absolutely thrilled to be seeing solid results from our efforts. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, but from these early results – I encourage all of you to take on this project as well. Nothing beats a little piece of mail waiting for your in your mailbox – sealed with hand-written thoughts and good wishes.