Welcome to the August 2020 Distance Families News. As each month passes in this new COVID world the internal dialogue says "adjust, adjust, adjust". I am grateful for the distraction of my writing projects and spend a lot of time at my desk. Here are some snippets from the last month.
Hoping readers are safe and well.
A taste of home
There is probably no more iconic a New Zealand taste and smell sensation than the vegetable extract product Marmite. On our last U.S. visit we carried eight large jars. I suspect the reason that a particular suitcase missed a flight connection at Houston was perhaps the dense jars of Marmite which attracted the attention of the U.S. biodiversity officers
After already travelling 19 hours we had to wait at the airport for another hour or so, for the next flight to arrive delivering the missing bag and suspicious contents.
Please remember back. What is on YOUR shopping list when you visit your distance family? I would love to add a global flavour (excuse the pun) to my books.
The distance family thinking pie
Each generation of a distance family thinks about each other at lesser or greater degrees. Thinking and pondering involve effort and can be incredibly useful. It makes us creative. It helps us reflect outside the square and problem solve. It can also make us worry, ruminate and fester. Yesterday a distance grandparent said to me … “I can’t even bear to think about my family overseas – I’ll be in tears in moment”.
I maintain that distance grandparents consume the biggest slice of the ‘Distance Family Thinking Pie’. They think about their distance children the most — closely followed by thinking of their distance grandchildren. When they wake up each morning, one of their first thoughts will be “are there any messages overnight from the kids?”.
Distance sons and daughters think about their distance parents quite often, but they are not necessarily uppermost in their minds. Their lives are full and their first responsibility is to their immediate family. Distance grandchildren do the least thinking, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care.
The purpose of talking about the ‘Distance Family Thinking Pie’ is in no way to critique each generation’s effort. It is there for one purpose only: to highlight the reality that the quantity of distance family thinking varies between generations.
Thoughts on isolation
Here is a reflective article.....'Thanks to Covid-19, the great global experiment that, in recent years, invited so many of us to call so many distant shores our homes has lost a little of its sheen.'
The comfort of stuff
Daniel Miller is an anthropologist at the University College of London and has written a couple of leftfield books called Stuff and The Comfort of Things. He is interested in the relationship of humans to their things.
Amongst the stuff at my house is an assorted stash of kiddie gear and toys. A stair barrier resides under the guests’ bed, board games live at the top of a wardrobe and a port-a-cot, retro highchair (bought for me!), ride on bike, bashed about plastic table & chairs and other toys reside, off and on, in our attic roof space.
I find this stuff comforting and what’s better I can share it with local friends when their distance family visit. A car seat is currently next door with visiting family who haven’t been able to return to Europe due to COVID-19. Another friend had family ‘escape’ from the U.K. and with little notice she converted her home from an adults-only, single woman peaceful oasis to a kiddie-friendly, toy filled playground. She borrowed a bunch of toys and gear from me.
Once the family moved on this week she arrived at my door with the bag of miscellaneous toy stuff: the dregs after the clean-up. “Please can we spread this lot over your carpet and figure out what’s yours, and what belong elsewhere”. Sitting on the floor we sorted through ancient matchbox cars, odd bits of Duplo, plastic animals and rubbishy children junk directing the odd item to its rightful home.
Despite the desire in latter years to declutter and downsize (which I am all for) there is still comfort in some stuff — especially right now.
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