Bringing Family Together Virtually

I'm often asked how to celebrate, honor, remember, and pay tribute to family members when they’re spread out all over the country, and sometimes the world.

It’s definitely not an easy task, but here are two ideas I thought were worth sharing.

A few weeks ago, we had a big family event. It was my niece Allison’s Bat Mitzvah and family came in from all over the United States to be together. It was also my Mom’s 70th birthday. I wanted to honor this milestone birthday, as well as capture her story in a unique way that also celebrated her.

Mom's Photo BookI decided to make a photo tribute book using Mixbook, which I've talked about in a previous blogpost. What was different about this tribute book, though, was that I asked various relatives to write a special note to her and share memories and pictures that they had taken together with her.

Besides getting some of the most thoughtful notes about my Mom in one place, one cousin came across a treasure while looking for photos. It was a handwritten letter from 1945 that my Mom’s mother had written to her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, congratulating them on the birth of their daughter, my Mom’s first cousin Harriet. This letter describes in great detail all of the things my Mom was doing at that time in her life - when she was all of nine months old!

My Mom lost her mother when she was 27, so to have a letter like this, in her mother's own handwriting, now scanned and included in the book, is simply priceless. Being able to include this, along with the stories that each relative shared, gave a wonderful portrait into who my Mom is and continues to be. I highly recommend Mixbook as a way to bring memories together.

Another tool I’ve recently come across is Life on Record. This service gives you a toll-free number that you can share with relatives and friends, who call in and leave a message, be it a heartfelt tribute or sharing family stories from long ago. Once everyone has called in, the service pulls all of the phone messages together and puts them on a CD. (You can also download the messages to your computer.) Though the message length is capped at 30 minutes, there is no limit to how often someone can call in to leave a message. Though I haven't used this service yet, I do think it could be a useful tool to try.

Sharing family history and memories is challenging when families live far apart, but there are ways to make it happen. These are just two of many. Need more ideas? Get in touch with us to discover how you can capture your family history on video.