“Bridging the Distance,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 24–25
I grew up in a home that was filled with love, laughter, and lots of noise. Family dinners lasted for hours as we all talked about our day. Evenings were filled with pickup basketball, board games, and videos with popcorn. My siblings and I would stay up talking late into the night.
My career has taken me far from home since then. During my single years, until my recent marriage, I lived alone in an apartment where it was rather quiet—unless I talked to myself or my cat! Despite the distance, I have been able to maintain close ties with my family by engaging in a few simple activities:
Sending cards and letters. I don’t wait for special occasions to write cards to members of my family, and many times I feel prompted to write to a specific individual. I like to make cards rather than buy them. My family members seem to especially appreciate the cards I make out of family photographs, because these are more than just cards—they are tangible memories that can be saved. I also enjoy making cards out of construction paper for my nieces. Sometimes I include a surprise with their cards, such as pencils or stickers. My nieces love getting mail with their names on it, and often they will call to let me know they received their letter. This helps me feel more involved in their young lives.
Finding common interests. My father was a football coach, and my family has always loved watching football together. Now that we live in different locations, we hold a weekly football contest throughout the college season. My dad selects the games we are to follow, and we all pick our winners. Then we keep track of who wins the most games. We do this through e-mail, but the contest could also be modified and done by telephone. There is never a prize for the winner; we just enjoy the competition and keeping in touch. Other families could choose to follow a different sport or could read a book, see a movie, or do some other activity separately and then discuss it later by e-mail or telephone.
Creating a family newsletter. I help put together a family newsletter four times a year. Everyone writes an article about his or her family and sends it to me. I put the articles into a newsletter and add photographs and other items of interest. It’s always fun to read what everyone else is doing—it’s almost like talking with my family and hearing them tell stories. My brothers’ contributions always make me laugh.
Maintaining a family Web site. I have set up a Web site for my family, including members of my extended family. On the Web site we can download pictures and articles and even chats with one another. This is a great way to keep updated on each other’s lives.
Recording home videos or audiotapes. When I was living in Argentina and Mexico, my dad would send me videos of my niece so that I could see her growing and changing. Making and sending videos or audiotapes can be a fun alternative to sending cards or e-mails.
Of course, nothing compares to actually being with my family, so I try to schedule visits as often as I can. But during those times when we are far away from each other, we make the effort to stay in touch. That way, even when we are hundreds of miles apart, we still feel close.