Most importantly I got the gift of spending it with family – my wife’s family for that matter. I have done this for the past 31 Christmases. The family has changed a great deal but as one of my nieces in college said ‘finding your way to come home for Christmas is something that we should do no matter what’.
My place has changed going from the young kid to the middle aged uncle, son and brother in-law. It’s great to see everyone particularly the nieces and nephews who I don’t get to see often enough. All do different things – some are still students either in high school or college, some work full time. None are married – out of 9 cousins aged 15 – 27.
All are consumed with technology. Everyone has a PDA or phone and if under 30 without exception checked text messages or talked on their mobile phone at least once during the afternoon. That’s amazingly different since my first Christmas with the family back in 1978. The technology we had then consisted of a record player, a television (yes it was color) showing the Yule Log (or was that Christmas Eve?) and the long gone Blue-Gray classic college football all star game.
But now our conversations drift in and out of technology all driven by the younger set. Facebook, internet forums, YouTube, dominate. It seems someone is always sitting at the computer near the dining room table before or after dinner checking something. When I mentioned that I now tweet from time to time there were a few cousins that had no idea what Twitter was! And when I mentioned to my recent college grad (2007) niece about using LinkedIn to find a new job, she said she just had not gotten into that. She (like all my nieces and nephews for that matter) does use Facebook regularly but did not see the value in LinkedIn. What she did not see was how it could be relevant to her.
I was able to show her how I could find out about the people with whom she was going to interview after the weekend by checking their profile on LinkedIn. Of course you can Google someone as well to get information but specific to an individual LinkedIn is faster and more accurate since it is user generated.
What I also was able to articulate is how Facebook allows me to offer up my unfiltered and genuine thoughts to friends or ‘Friends’ and maybe that helps them draw a better read on me as opposed to the business oriented sides of LinkedIn and Twitter . Surprisingly my nieces and nephews actually read some of my updates (I did not know that since they never comment) and think they are funny sometimes but revealing more than that. They get to know me and I get to know them (yes I read their status updates and rarely comment) in ways that people never could before. And that might be the best gift I get of them all.