Long distance Christmas
These days family and friends are spread out all over the world. This is when family traditions can really help make you feel connected to your loved ones.
Your year in review
An easy way to save your fingers from hours of writing a personal note in each Christmas card is to compose an informative newsletter and slip one inside each card. We get several of these every Christmas, via post and email now as well. They're a fantastic way to catch up on what's been happening over the past year.
Make sure you keep copies of your newsletters too, as they make a wonderful treasure to bring out over the holidays and remember years past. You might want to keep what's called a "Joy Journal" where you can jot things down as they happen throughout the year - as it's sometimes quite difficult to remember everything when the holidays roll around.
Along with many of our personalised ornaments, in our family each member also has the same large red ball with our names on it. Somehow knowing that when my son hangs his ornament that says "Jakob," his cousin might be hanging hers that says "Emily."
Celebrate together in spirit
Set a certain day and time to physically connect with your loved ones who live far away. At the chosen moment drink a toast, light a candle, put up your stocking or hang a special family ornament. It's nice to think that at that exact time, we're all united by the exact same experience.
Just like being there
Technology nowadays can minimise that far away feeling. Video calling can open up your celebration to friends and family all over the world. Turn on your web camera and actually show Aunt Susie in Australia your new Christmas outfit or let your sister in New York see how you decorated your tree. Plan ahead to make sure the time works for everyone, as it may be noon in London but 1am in New Zealand.
So instead of racking up the minutes on your phone bill, get up to speed on the latest technology and make free video calls. Most internet providers offer this service (we used Yahoo!). The newest one that seems to be very popular is Skype (www.skype.co.nz). Just think of all the things you can do with the money you'll save on long distance charges.