Perhaps it’s unfortunate that we’re getting used to communicating with Zoom and FaceTime calls with family and friends. It IS fun, though, to actually see the faces of the folks you’re talking to, rather than just listening to them on the phone, or texting.
On Saturday mornings, we’ve been having a weekly Zoom call with my husband’s 5 kids and the grandkids. Usually only 3 out of the 5 show up, but we can see the kids growing up and the different amount of facial hair the guys have decided to let grow. They can also see my un-dyed hair that is magically blond, not grey. (At least that’s what Doug and I hold on to.) We chat about our daily lives, and deal with the technical difficulties that always seem to show up, but are less now that we’re all getting used to signing in and making sure that our devices have enough battery.
When we transitioned from Tahoe to Palm Springs, we were asked to come by way of the Bay Area to see everyone in person, just for an hour or so. We hadn’t seen family since last Thanksgiving, when we celebrated an early Christmas, together, calling it Thanksmas. One problem was, that we would add a few hours to our journey, probably making us have to stay in a hotel overnight, exposing us to who knows what, and our tiny “bubble” that we’ve kept intact all this time may burst. All for an hour or two of mask wearing, social distancing, and no hugging, in the chilly outdoors. Deliberation ended and we told them that we felt we could actually visit with them better on the Zoom calls. It sounded harsh. There will be no hugging on Zoom either, but we do at least get to make eye contact and see their smiles.
The best Zoom call ever was a memorial that the kids wanted to have for their Mom, who passed away rather suddenly of cancer 20 years ago. Everyone sent photos of her and their then young family to one of Doug’s daughters, and she put together a masterpiece tribute to Teresa, a montage accompanied by music, that brought tears to everyone’s eyes, including mine. Tissues were used abundantly on all the little screens, even by her brothers and their wives back East. Attention was suddenly turned to me, and the kids showed me their appreciation for being in their lives. More Kleenex was brought out.
Yesterday my son, Lucas and his wife Jen, called on FaceTime. He was excited to show us how they had decorated their new home in upstate New York, especially the living room, to use as a backdrop for his first Zoom party. He’s a DJ, and hasn’t been able to do weddings and parties because of the virus, so this would be the alternative. The party would include a 45 minute live holiday concert by John Legend, and we were invited. We set up the computer out on the patio, with the palm tree and a Palm Springs sunset in the background, and got out a new jigsaw puzzle to work on while we waited for everything to start. I must say, that my favorite part was watching my son rock to the beat and effortlessly blend one tune into the next during the “afterparty”. Once I figured out how to put up the “gallery view”, I could see twenty squares of folks dancing in their living rooms, or showing off their tiny tots in festive elf costumes. Everyone was smiling at each other’s antics. Lucas waved every so often, and I assumed it was to me. Some folks had some sort of backgrounds that kept changing as they moved. That must be advanced Zooming. In my shot, the sky just darkened naturally behind me and I put on my sweater.
It seems like this social distancing and mask wearing time is going to go on for quite a while longer than we ever anticipated. In fact, we’re thinking of having a really different kind of Christmas this year, perhaps even opening our presents over Zoom. Perhaps we could arrange to eat our dinner together over Zoom. In that case, I’ll have to put up some extra decorations and lights this year to overcome the absence of a crowd in the house. It really could be a Silent Night.