We are all having some experiences during the Coronavirus response that we hope never to repeat. But, hopefully we have other moments we will be grateful that we did have; maybe even some we likely would not have had without it. I experienced one of these “positives” just yesterday (Easter Sunday).
Like many of us, my wife and I are physically distanced even from our own 5 children–all adults, four of whom are married and none of whom live with us.
So, our family took advantage of the video hardware and software most of us are, for the first time, learning to use–and we had a virtual Easter dinner together, complete with games afterward, for a couple hours yesterday. All 11 of us were on the video meeting, plus a few cats, who are members of the various families. We shared updates, laughed, compared meals, and enjoyed each other’s company in ways that just do not happen without the group dynamics.
But, why is this a “positive?” It would have been much better to be physically present with each other, so this was a negative, right? Of course. Here’s the catch. These nine children and their spouses live in Manhattan, Seattle, and Orange County, California. In fact, my son in Manhattan joined the meeting while on a commuter train coming back from Philadelphia, and then walked into his Manhattan apartment to join with his wife–so we were joining in from five states, and opposite sides of the continent. None of them live in Arizona, and have not for several years now, so our separation had nothing to do with the Coronavirus threat. We had NO plans to be together for Easter dinner anyway! Our joining together for Easter dinner was something we (actually one of my boys) would not have thought to do, without the new way of thinking suddenly imposed on us.
It was clear to all of us that our gathering this way, from time to time, will now become a permanent part of our family culture. As spread out as our children live, it is really difficult to get everyone physically together, so it does not happen often–not near enough for the parents, at least. These video reunions are not the same as physical presence, but they are a world better than nothing at all. Yet, I wonder how long it would have taken for this family-gathering use of our technology to dawn on us, but for the personal and business sheltering the Coronavirus has imposed. I would not wish this Coronavirus pandemic (or most trials) on myself or anyone else, but I am grateful for some lessons we inevitably learn through such times. For me, discovering this new way to gather as a family is now on that list.