How Sunday Family Zoom calls bring family closer
Since the pandemic started in March, air travel has not been an option for my family. By now I would’ve visited my family in NYC at least twice, taken a few trips to S. Florida, yes I know I could drive, but I’m not about that 5-hr-drive life, and taken at least one girl’s trip, but the way this pandemic is set up, most of my trips have been to my computer screen. Travel restrictions have made it hard to see family, specifically my grandmother. (She made me remove her age. It’s on par for how she handles every Family Zoom call — like a boss!)
So early on, when I realized I wouldn’t be taking any trips, I sent my fam my Zoom link. I let them know that we would meet every Sunday at 1 till the pandemic was over. Little did we know we’d be meeting on Zoom for eight months straight. During the calls, we shared our weekly projects, things we vowed to get done before the next call. We also talked trash to those who didn’t follow through.
While we all kept in touch prior to the COVID outbreak, we probably got together as a family once a year at Thanksgiving. So when it was time to make Thanksgiving plans this year, we knew that wouldn’t involve anyone catching flights, instead, we caught up and gave thanks during our trusty family zoom call.
I’ll admit, I didn’t do well with keeping up with all of my uncles and cousins prior to COVID. But since our family Zooms, I’ve spent more time with most of them more than I ever would have. Typically, our calls last for about 3 hours. That’s stopping and starting but hey, as my grandma would say, make do! What do we talk about for 3 hours you ask? Oh, let me tell you, this is one colorful bunch. Here are the usual suspects:
The Tech Guru/Fearless leader
Meet my grandmother she’s the matriarch of our family and the glue, with the help of Zoom of course. She reminds us of how much things have changed since her day, some for the worst, and how she feels about EVERYTHING. We’ve had some pretty heated discussions about, feminism, the status of the black race and politics. Well, that’s a given how do we avoid politics?! Let’s just say this is one opinionated family, I wonder where we get it from? She’s also the tech guru and loves to tell everyone how Zoom works, but always seems to have difficulties herself.
The Napper/Sidebar Commentator
My mom is a character all by herself. I tease that she’s a Ghetto-lebrity, known on the streets of Harlem for her work against gun and gang violence via her nonprofit Street Corner Resources. She can usually be found on her way to “insert someplace in Harlem here,” or on her couch at the Peace Cafe, or her apartment.
She is a repeat-offender of talking to others while not on mute, which means she often gets muted by the call leader…ME!!! If having side conversations weren’t enough, she has been known to fall asleep on a call or two and has gained the title of The Napper. Yup, add her to the list of those Zoom Meeting bloopers you see going viral. I won’t post the pics here, only because she’s my mom, but know they are being kept in a safe place, just in case I need to use them for leverage.
My uncle, the baby of my grandmother’s five children, is ALWAYs the first on the call. The only constant male representation on the Family Zoom call, he handles himself well in a virtual room full of women. He shares his love of sports trading cards and even whipped out his magic tricks. The same tricks that were show-stoppers for my cousins and me when we were kids — talk about nostalgia. He’s often given a hard time about his easy-going disposition surrounded by a group of all Type A women, so don’t tell him I said he brings balance to all of the chaos. His wife Charlene often pops in to get her quick fill of the comedy that takes over our Family Zoom calls.
Country Mouse/The Shopper
My cousin, one of 7 grandchildren, is an added bonus to the call. I often tease her she is the second favorite of my grandmother’s grandchildren. She was beaten out by my grandmother’s eldest male grandson. (neither of them ever received spankings, take from that what you will.) We affectionately call her Country Mouse, cause she was born and raised in the south.
Despite having the same Zoom link and time EVERY Sunday, we still have a few folks that just can’t get on the Family Zoom call. They do, however, make guests appearances every now and again, we’ll refer to them as the Unusual Suspects. I will give the repeat offenders credit for showing up when it mattered most, like Thanksgiving day. Thanksgiving was especially nice. Thanks to the folks at Zoom who extended the 40-minute time limit that comes with a free account, to unlimited. It was right on time for our little family get-together.
It’s always great to see the family. But the most joy comes from knowing my grandmother is happy to see all her children, grand and great-grandchildren.
The true power of the Zoom Family call is if we could get all 33 of her offspring at once. Yes, we counted on one of the installments of the Family Zoom calls. (but that’s hilarity for another day.) Now that Zoom is apart of our family ritual, we plan to get together for the next holiday. Who knows what kind of family craziness that will bring.
(In addition to our weekly zoom calls we have an ongoing text chat that often gets out of hand. It was originally for a daily check-in but has grown to be an ongoing comedy line. (and trust me, no one is safe.)
This Pandemic has brought a lot of pain and suffering to families all over the world, and while we have been some of the lucky ones, we are thankful that platforms like Zoom have allowed our family to stay connected when it seemed virtually impossible (y’all know I love a good pun).
It’s rough, but I challenge everyone to get creative and find ways other than in-person to connect. If you’ve already figured it out, don’t Zoom off before you share your ideas in the comments. I’d love to hear your creative ideas on how you, you’re staying connected during this COVID Pandemic.
As always, stay safe — Cheers Mamas!