Tuesday, August 26

WFMW: Virtual Family Gatherings

I don't know how many of you, my loyal readers, have the privilege of living nearby your extended family. That is not the case for me. The closest members of my immediate family (of origin) live two states away. Most of my extended family is even farther.

A few months ago, my dad sent an e-mail to each of his three kids. I forget the exact nature of the subject ... life insurance or estate planning or something similar. Whatever the topic was, it seemed to set us off typing. We hadn't had a family discussion that lively in years! And I realized I'd missed it.

For a month or so before this, I'd been fiddling around with Google Groups for a work project. It seemed to me like a perfect fit for my e-mailing family. I didn't know how they might react to the idea, but I went ahead and set up a private group for us and invited everyone to join. The first few weeks were a little slow as we weren't really sure what else we had to say to one another.

Once a few threads got going, however, we've found this is a really nice way to stay in touch. We have a page on the website for special celebration dates and links to online wishlists and notes about individuals' interests. We've discussed vacation plans and coordinated schedules to visit with each other.

Just the other day I sent around a question about theology that had been rumbling in my brain. This is a discussion my family would never have participated in, were it not for the group. Not that we couldn't have just sent the e-mails around, but I wouldn't really have thought start it.

This isn't really meant to be an advertising piece for Google (but, hey, Google folks, if you want to pay me ...). I know you can do groups at Yahoo! or Facebook, and other sites as well, but I'm not as familiar with the features of those.

I just wanted to encourage anyone who may not have considered enhancing your family gatherings through technology to give it a go. It definitely works for me!

For more tips, tricks, and hints, visit Rocks in My Dryer.


  1. Amy,
    I think this is such a great idea! Unfortunately my parents aren't really "up to date" when it comes to technology...
    BUT last year I set up a Yahoo group for my very small high school graduating class. There were 25 of us total, and I got 17 to join the group! It is such a great tool to have, and it inspired us to have a mini-reunion!
    What a cool way for your family to keep in touch.

  2. I love this! I sat here talking to my sister in law just weeks ago about how there should be a website where all family members can log onto one place an insert photos, updates, memos, etc. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I love this. I set up a group already and sent invites to my parents and siblings. What a great idea!


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