Happy relationships at Christmas
Many families will spend Christmas time apart. Unlike the old days when kids ran up the street to grab a biscuit at grandma's before tearing back home, getting together with the family isn’t so easy nowadays. We’re often miles apart and it can be hard to sustain happy family relationships at the best of times.
But making a conscious effort to include everyone at Christmas, even if you’re not physically together, can be rewarding for everyone. Especially for children.
Jumping across continents
If it’s an ocean that divides you, webcams are a fabulous gadget. They are widely available little cameras that you plug into a computer, available at John Lewis for under £15. Download a free, instant messaging programme from the internet like Skype, point the camera at yourself and off you go. You can ‘video conference’ in real time with others anywhere in the world. The kids can try and pile all their Christmas presents in view and whoever has had the most brandy sauce can serenade the missing family with a carol.
If technology defeats you, or you won’t have access to a computer or the internet, a good, old fashioned phone card can be a good gift. Especially for the forgetful father or travelling teenager who might not otherwise get in touch. Given together with the number you’ll be on during the festive season, it might just result in a Christmas call.
If you’re about to wrap up gifts for sending to absent family members, throw in a few of those hundreds of family photographs you’ve probably got lying around. Or email them a Christmas collage of the kids. It’s the next best thing to sending yourself! There are also shared photo albums on-line, like Photobox.
When you’re doing the Christmas cards, give yourself an extra hour and get the kids to write, draw and customise cards to family. They might not be very legible, but they’ll certainly be appreciated.
If you’re separated and either mum or dad won’t be with the kids this Christmas, spilt the children’s gift list to ensure there are presents with labels from both parents. Or give all the gifts ‘from Santa’. That way, children won’t have the disappointment of one parent not giving a gift this year and the absent parent won’t feel left out.
Traditions are terribly important to a sense of family. If grandma is not around for Christmas and she always does the stockings, remember to tell her that you’ll miss them. The tradition won’t be forgotten, just ‘in waiting’ for another year.
Thank you cards are another great way to share experiences of Christmas. When the tinsel is drooping and the mince pies are crumbs on the carpet, get your kids to sit down and write, decorate or draw their thank yous. Write a few sentences about what you all did over Christmas and the recipient will feel included, know what’s been going on and be able to talk to you about it.
Finally, if you are resorting to the great dash across the hills, up the valley or down the motorway to try and see everyone this Christmas, don’t forget to connect your car to the fuel pump well before you go. This terrific site comparing petrol prices might just save you a few Christmas pennies! There’s not much chance of finding an open petrol station come Christmas Day.