Three Technologies to Share with Family Over Thanksgiving

My in-laws live states away but are very interested in being involved and staying connected to our kids. On every visit with the grandparents, my kids will spend time giving an iPhone or iPad tutorial. However, it’s usually been to answer questions, but this Thanksgiving I’m going to make sure we all set up and run through these three applications.

I asked my kids (13 and 18 years of age), who prefer to type over talking on the phone, which technologies they like to use or would use more often with Grandmom and Granddad. Here are their top three:

  1. FaceTime/Skype

My kids have used both and share that it’s really about the video, which they find more personal and engaging. Thankfully, we all have iPhones, so we can easily use FaceTime to make video calls. This is the leading way my daughter stays connected with her friends. We have also used it to talk with our son who is now away at college. It’s so much more personal to see eye-to-eye as we catch up.

GLAM ALERT: Holding the phone down below your chin is very unbecoming … so be forewarned, you may find doing these calls from your iPhone also offers a limited workout for your arms as you try to keep the phone up near your face (and maybe a little higher for a more flattering view to share with kids and grandkids).

If you don’t have FaceTime, you can use Skype. You can use Skype from both smartphone apps and from an internet-connected computer.

  1. SnapchatSnapchat

My son sums up Snapchat as a “better way to send snapshots of what you are doing.” Not only does he find it easier than texting a photo, he showed me how you can easily add words, captions, emojis, and even filters to enhance the image.

I’ve witnessed him take hundreds of selfies and share them with friends. I opened up an account in hopes of making sure I had the opportunity to have him share a few of the good photos with me, especially now that he’s at college.

He’s more apt to respond to Snapchat than return a text.

  1. Words With Friends

wordsWhen we visit the grandparents at their cabin, we are usually huddled around a game of Bananagrams. When we aren’t together, it’s one way my kids can still have fun with Grandmom, who is the gamer in the family.

I hope you will find these suggestions give you some new ways to connect the generations within your own family and shrink the miles that may separate you. Shared. 

NOTE: In a related story that first appeared on Dot Complicated, “Why You Need to Know Your Kids’ Passwords,” I shared that creating a written list might be the only way you would ever be able to access a minor’s online account. What you agree to (usually without reading it) says that no one else has any right to access that account. For this reason, I recommend having your children create a written backup that goes into a sealed envelope I hope you never have a need to open. For free templates to document usernames, passcodes, security questions, and PINs, download a free chapter from the best-selling book MemoryBanc: Your Workbook for Organizing Life at

The Table is Smaller, But my Heart is Bigger

thanksgivingThis is our first Thanksgiving without my Dad. Both parents have traditionally joined us for Thanksgiving. Last year my Mom was having difficultly with the change of scenery. I gave her my scrapbook to look through which helped keep her busy and brought calm to her disposition.

When we were discussing the pick-up time for today and writing it on my Mom’s calendar, she says “Your Father and I were really looking forward to coming to your house for Thanksgiving this year.” My heart skipped a beat.

The past few years have been quite a journey for our family. I’m thankful for all that my parents have taught me in my childhood and as an adult. While I will miss the presence of my Dad at the table, the personal changes I’ve undergone will be with me for a lifetime and have improved my life tremendously. Blessed. 

Avoid Mock Holidays after Dementia is Diagnosed

My in-laws were in town two weekends ago and we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving early. We invited my parents and I went to pick them up before our luncheon feast.

In the car on the way over my parents were unusually confounded that it was already Thanksgiving. “No, we are just pretending it is so we can celebrate when Todd’s (my husband) parents are in town.”  They would accept the explanation – only for the topic to be raised again five minutes later.

At one point my dad exclaimed “I thought it was the weekend, I can’t believe it’s Thursday!” I then shared it was the weekend.

We had a great meal together. I had not seen my parents eat as much in months. However, I realize I need to simplify how I talk about the holidays. The advance planning is stressful to my mom in particular. Now, I simply put times and events on their calendar with my name so they know I will be there to coordinate with them.

We will get to spend the real Thanksgiving at our house tomorrow. The big holidays always make you wonder how more of these we will get to spend together. Appreciated.