The holidays will be different this year

the holidays will be different this yearThe situation with the Covid-19 pandemic is going to make the holidays different this year for a lot of us.  Many of us who would get together in person with family and friends over Thanksgiving are not doing so out of caution and safety.  We aren’t flying, we aren’t gathering in large groups.  And we are sad because of the situation this health crisis has put us in.  We could feel mad and upset or we could do things differently.

My mother, who lives in Palm Desert, CA, celebrated her 90th birthday this past October.  If there was no pandemic, we would have all gathered in California to celebrate in person with her.  But that wasn’t possible so we implemented plan B.  We decided to do a virtual party instead.

Working with my brother-in-law, we designed a fun invitation that was sent to family members and my mother’s friends which included the Zoom link for the party.  My sister, who also lives in California, had cupcakes sent to my mother and I made a birthday cake in North Carolina with my grandchildren.  The oldest, who is 6 1/2, did ask how we were going to get it to Nanny.  Sunday evening, everyone (children, grandchildren, nieces, and friends) logged onto the Zoom call and we were able to celebrate my mother’s birthday together.  It was different, but it was fun!

There were two fun parts of the evening that stood out – One was my son-in-law asking my mother questions about what the world was like when she was younger and how things have changed over her lifetime.  The other was a photo collage that I put together of my mother over the years starting from when she was maybe 3 years old.

One of the greatest gifts we can give is the gift of our photos and storiesResearch has shown that children who grow up with a sense of their family history have better self esteem and “show higher levels of emotional well-being”.  In previous years we would sit around the table or the kitchen or the family room and share these stories in person and share photos on are phone.  But this year will be different, since we my not be in person but that doesn’t mean we can’t still share our stories and our photos.

the holidays will be different this yearLet’s use this year to create a new family tradition of how we share our photos and tell our stories.  Let’s do it virtually. Here is a list of questions that you can send to family members and ask them to respond.  Or you can create your own list of question.  Everyone can send their responses to one family member who can collect and them share with everyone else.  Or you can set up a family call using Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger or Google meet or any other application you want to use and share your responses live.  It would also be fun if you could dig out a few photos to share as well.

  1. Where did your parents meet?
  2. Where did your mother grow up?
  3. Where did your father grow up?
  4. Where did your grandparents grow up?
  5. Where did your grandparents meet?
  6. Where were your parents married?
  7. What was happening in the world when you were born?
  8. What is the source of your name?
  9. What was happening in the world when your brother or sister was born?
  10. Which person in your family do you look like?
  11. Which person in the family are you most like?
  12. What illnesses and injuries did your parents experience when they were younger?
  13. What were some of the lessons that your parents learned from good or bad experiences?
  14. What are some things that your mom or dad did when they were in school/younger?
  15. What is the national background of your family?
  16. What jobs did your parents have?
  17. What awards did your parents receive when they were younger?
  18. What are the names of the schools that your mother went to?
  19. What are the names of the schools that your father went to?
  20. What are some interesting/fun things that your parents did before you were born?

(Adapted from “The Stories That Bind Us: What Are the Twenty Questions?”, Marshall P. Duke, Huffington Post May 23, 2013.)

Let’s not allow the pandemic to spoil our family get togethers.  Let’s use it as an opportunity to do things differently and start new traditions.  Yes, the holidays will be different this year but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.  We can use the time to be creative and find a new way to connect, share, and love each other.

It’s time to cleanout your photos on your phone!

time to clean out your photos on your cell phoneWhen is a good time to clean out your digitial photos on your cell phone?

If you live in a state other than Arizona or Hawaii, you recently set your clocks back from daylight savings time to standard time.  A lot of people use this trigger of setting our clocks back an hour or forward an hour as a reminder to check and/or change the batteries in our smoke detectors.  You may also use it as a reminder to deal with other chores around the house such as time to plant the Spring bulbs in your garden or time you get the tires rotated on your car.  I would also like to suggest that it’s a good time to sit down and clean out your digital photos on your phone.  Some Photo Managers suggest that we do this at the beginning of every month.  So, since we just started a new month, you now have double the reason why it’s a good time to review and delete the photos on your phone.

Today our cameras/phones are with us all the time so we are taking lots of photos of the same event and lots of photos scenes outside or some of the crazy things we are doing in our homes these days.  And while we have the ability to easily delete photos, we don’t.  We have become digital hoarders with our digital clutter.  When you keep all those photos on your phone, you use up storage space and you eventually decide to buy a new phone with more storage to store all those photos rather than delete some of your photos.

So, you might ask, how do I decide what to keep and what to delete?

You want to save only the best ones.

If you have a hard time deleting photos, try doing it in baby steps or small increments.  After a special event or a vacation or a time when you know you have taken a lot of photos – such as Halloween – take a quick run through those photos and delete all the blurry and duplicates right away.  Then go back and be a bit more ruthless.  Do you have 10 pictures of your child building sand castles on the same day or in their Halloween costume or the crazy contraptions that people built this year to safely deliver Halloween candy? Pick 1 or 2 to save and delete the rest.  If you can’t bring yourself to delete a lot of them right away, give yourself some time and do it the first of next month.  After some time has gone by, it will be easier to delete. time to clean out your photos on your cell phone

Resist the feeling of photo guilt.  Do any of these comments sound familiar?

“Oh, it’s such a cute picture.”

“Oh, it’s such a beautiful sunset.”

“I have to save these photos of when she was young so I don’t forget.”

“I have to save these memories of his first soccer game so I won’t forget.”

Unless you are planning to create a photo book of that vacation or that soccer season, you want to go through the pictures and only keep the best ones and delete the rest.  You want to keep the photos that can tell the story of the event or the occasion.  The photos with people in them are the most interesting now and will also be years from now.  However, the 25 pictures of pretty flowers or sunsets or the food you ate will not have much meaning a year from now and even less meaning 25 years from now.

Your photos tell the story of your life experiences and by saving the best you will find it much easier to cherish those memories and pass them down to family members in digital photo books or in archived private, secure cloud storage.

Once you have deleted your photos, don’t forget to clear out the Recently Deleted Album on your phone so that you truly release the storage space.

As you are going through and cleaning up your photos on your phone, it is also a good time to organize them into albums. Start by identifying the topics or categories that will make it easier for you to find your photos.  Examples of topics are your children or grandchildren, pets, a special event, a vacation, your house and yard, or a specific topic such as food or sunsets.  Once you have identified these topics then you want to create albums on your phone for each of these topics and select and move the appropriate photos into these albums.  As you are organizing your photos into albums, you may come across additional photos that you want to delete.  This process does not duplicate your photo but instead tags it that it belongs to this particular album.

For additional information on cleaning up your cell phone photos, see my blog post titled Are your cell phone photos a mess?

Once you have taken the time to cleanout your current photos on your cell phone, you can start working backwards with your older photos on your phone or your computer.  Remember, just do it in small chunks of time, don’t try to do it all at once.