This post is sponsored by Kodak Moments and SheKnows Media.
Keeping long distance friendships fun and alive:
“I miss my friends and Uncle Scott” were his muffled words as he cried big tears into the Star Wars pillow. His back shook with every sob and he refused to look at me. My heart shattered right then and there.
This past summer, we moved from South Florida to the Seattle area, literally from one end of the country to the other. Our family of six has dealt with the move relatively well, but every one of our kids reacted to the newness and loss of friendships in their own time and in their own ways.
This time, it was our tough six-year old’s turn to express his pent-up sadness. We sat in his bed for several minutes, as his sobs slowed down in intensity and volume, until he finally turned his face to look at me. Oh, those big brown eyes, the sadness and the longing for familiarity.
We hugged, and he finally smiled.
“Honey, would you like to send something special to some of your friends? Something to let them know that you are thinking of them?” He wiped the last tears and slowly nodded his head.
I knew all too well the heartache the little guy was feeling. I grew up in an American family that lived in Denmark, and when we moved back to America, I was a Dane in America. No matter which country I found myself in, half of my family was always thousands of miles and an ocean apart.
The life of an expat is filled with adventure, new experiences, and different cultures, but it also requires balancing the feelings of longing for familiarity, family and friends.
A lifetime of missing my family and friends has taught me how important it is to stay present in their lives. Thankfully, because of technical advancements, it has become increasingly easy to stay in touch and keep in contact with my loved ones despite the miles that separate us. However, it still takes creativity and dedication to melt the miles away.
Check out some of the fun ways our family has stayed connected over the years:
I know our kids will greatly enjoy and benefit from these ideas too.
- Recorded voice/video messages. To help our little guy Jansen feel better about missing family, I connected with Uncle Scott and asked him to send Jansen a recorded message. The smile on Jansen’s face when he heard Uncle Scott’s voice message was PRICELESS. Jansen has listened to the recorded message several times now – with the same big wide smile on his face. Next time, I’m going to get a video message from him – I can’t wait to see Jansen’s reaction then!
- Recorded books. Growing up, one of my family’s sweetest traditions is to read “The Night Before Christmas” on Christmas Eve. Growing up in Denmark, my dad read the story to us every year, even though we eventually knew the story by heart. My mom recently gave our kids the book with a recording of her voice reading the story, so that we could continue the tradition.
- Phone calls. I know, I know. The phone is rarely used for its intended purpose anymore – but it’s important to try to call your friends once in a while. You will be surprised at how wonderful it is to hear their voices. It’ll feel like no time has passed since last time you spent time with them face to face.
- Care packages. Just like sending cards for no reason, packages for no reason are a wonderful way to let someone know that you are thinking of them. You don’t have to send big expensive gifts – even a drawing your kid did in school is a sweet way to connect with relatives and show them what the kids are doing.
- Holiday cards. (I saved the best for last!) My all-time favorite Christmas tradition is to send cards to friends and relatives near and far. We normally send out close to 100 cards to childhood friends, elderly relatives, and everyone in between. I know our old aunts and uncles have come to expect their annual Christmas card and letter from us. It’s also our best way to connect with people we otherwise haven’t kept in touch with during the past year, especially for people who aren’t on social media.
What I love most is that making beautiful holiday cards is no stress at all. This past weekend, I went to our local Bartells drugstore and created a couple of different Christmas card designs at their Kodak Picture Kiosk. The price was right (super low) and it only took me a few minutes to create two different card designs.
I had the finished product in less than an hour, which was perfect for our kids who wouldn’t have had the patience to wait WEEKS to see their smiling faces on the finished cards. The boys even asked for me to give them their own Christmas cards to send to their friends this year, which I was able to give them easily with Kodak Moments Holiday Cards.
And in case you were wondering, the Christmas cards with the kids’ pictures were designed by Jansen. He chose to send them to a few of his friends. His tears dried up and he felt proud to have Christmas cards of his own.
I guess our Christmas card count this year will be over 100, but that’s what happens when you have loved ones in so many different corners of the world. Thank goodness for great time and money saving solutions like the Kodak Picture Kiosk.
From now until 11/17, Bartells stores are offering 25% off greeting cards at the Kodak Picture Kiosk. Find a Bartells near you.
And for the holidays, learn how to enjoy more holiday hygge WITHOUT more stress!
(Quite the creative ideas in this one!)