I think my favorite Christmas of all time was when Essley was about to turn one (her birthday is three days after Christmas), and Robbie’s parents came here to Chicago from Arizona to celebrate with us. It was the first (and so far, only) time that all of the grandparents were here for the holidays, and we were all together, and everything just felt right. Real life doesn’t always allow for those storybook holidays though, and it’s just not logistically possible to repeat that magical Christmas every year. But that doesn’t stop us from doing everything we can to make it feel like we’re together. Today I thought I’d share some of the ways we stay connected as a family when we can’t be together for Christmas, in hopes it can help those of you in similar situations.
1. Phone carol. It sounds cheesy, and maybe it is, but we love it. Elf said it best: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Essley is all about the Christmas carols, and if she can’t be right in front of her grandparents to perform, singing over the phone is the next best option. Sometimes we even all chime in. It makes us feel like we’re together, even if just for a few minutes. We do it often and unapologetically throughout the season.
2. Videophone on Christmas Day. Videophone! It’s the future! (Who else remembers being a kid and dreaming of being able to see people in real time when you called them? It was right up there with flying cars, man.) Seriously though, FaceTime and Skype make being apart infinitely easier all year round, but they really make a difference on holidays. We FaceTime with the grandparents multiple times while unwrapping gifts, eating Christmas breakfast, playing with the gifts, etc. All day. It’s the next best thing to actually being together.
3. Make meaningful, personal gifts to send. Every single year, Essley has sat down and worked for hours on special drawings to give to her grandparents. We never go Pinterest-crazy with these gifts – she likes to do good old fashioned crayon and marker drawings on paper. She puts so much time and energy and love into them. It’s really special, guys. Then we frame them and wrap them up together. It’s so much better than giving them a store bought gift, and truly a way to send a piece of herself when she can’t actually be with them. And this year, Emmett is old enough that he was able to get in on the action too! He loves drawing and coloring more than any other activity (for real), and I can’t wait to hear what Robbie’s parents think about his masterpiece.
4. Make plans to be together in the new year. When we can’t be with the grandparents for Christmas, we always make plans during the holidays for a future visit. This year, Robbie’s mom is coming here to stay with the kids while I meet Robbie in Denver for the band’s New Years shows, and we’re also making plans now to go visit both of his parents in the spring. It’s a great way to get past the sad parts of not being able to be physically together during the holiday season, and to also have something special to look forward to as a family.
5. Send your gifts with expert care. We’ve had our fair share of gifts get damaged in the shipping process, and the disappointment can be pretty intense when in an effort to stay connected with loved ones for the holidays you send something special only to learn it didn’t make it in one piece. Since we frame the kids’ artwork in glass frames, this is especially important. We take our wrapped gifts, head over to The UPS Store, and let the professionals handle the logistics of packing and shipping our holiday gifts to the grandparents. It gives us peace of mind to know The UPS Store backs its services with the Pack & Ship Guarantee – if an item is somehow lost or damaged, The UPS Store reimburses the customer the cost of packaging materials and service, as well as shipping costs. The Guarantee applies to items packed by The UPS Store and shipped via UPS®, DHL® or USPS®. Knowing our gifts will arrive to the grandparents safe and sound is just one more way for us to feel a little closer when we can’t actually be together, and I’m grateful for that. (Bonus: Taking our gifts to The UPS Store to be packed and shipped also saves me time and alleviate stress during an insanely hectic time of year. Just saying.) Oh, and here is one more awesome thing about visiting The UPS Store during the holiday season. Through December 31st, participating The UPS Store locations will support the Toys for Tots Literacy Program with an in-center donation card drive. Every donation helps purchase books for local children in need. Pretty great, right?
And, for the second year in a row, The UPS Store is hosting the 5 Days of Giftmas, an interactive guessing game where customers have a chance to win prizes. There will be one Facebook Live game each day December 11th-15th (so its not too late!) at 2 PM ET. 2) If you follow The UPS Store on Instagram, you’ll notice a similar game where customers can “Guess the Gift” for a chance at a cool prize. The game series started back on December 4th, but is continuing until approximately three weeks after, with a new box every Monday and Wednesday. Woohoo!
For those of you who are away from loved ones during the holidays, I’d love to hear ways you stay connected!
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