Monday, December 24, 2012

Family Visits in the Techno Age


We've gathered for our annual Christmas get-together, and technology is the new guest. We’ve debated whether we should have “no-technology” moments during our family visit as we became aware that at times all 7 people staying at our house have our noses stuck in 7 different pieces of technology – laptops, iPads, or smartphones. The twins send music back and forth to each other while sitting on opposite couches. Bill reads something to everyone from his smartphone, and everyone enjoys a running commentary with family members far and near on Facebook.

But one use of technology silenced my call for no-techno moments. While sitting around the fire with the fam, we asked my mother-in-law to tell us about how they celebrated Christmas in her home during her growing up years in St. Peters, Nova Scotia. She told us about going out to the back field to chop down a Christmas tree with her father and how she received nothing more than apples and oranges in her stocking.  Their gifts included simple items, like socks and underwear. Her family never owned a car. She walked to school and to the store, while her dad walked to the post office where he worked, making just $2,000 a year. And she never felt poor.

To highlight the moment, one son pulled up decades-old photos of her family he had uploaded onto his computer from old slides. Another son went on to Google maps and found her childhood home.   With the street view, he was able to show my mother-in-law her old house, complete with changes made by the new owners who turned it into apartments. Another son pulled up a picture of one of her family members taken in the 50’s that he used as a CD cover for his band because he liked the vintage look. While I write this post, they are looking up the MacKillop tartan, celebrating their Scottish heritage. In a minute I’ll post this on Facebook and my sons will notice. They might “like” it or not, but either way, we’ll have a continuing conversation. A different kind of conversation, but we are talking nevertheless. And the times they are a changin’.

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