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A Thanksgiving Story: Free Video Calling Brought My Family Together

I love my family. I really do! But to be honest, they can be a little… “difficult" would be the most polite word, I suppose. Each has their own little quirks and foibles, and I couldn’t imagine a world without them. One recent incident really cemented all that I love and all that frustrates me to no end. Allow me to elaborate:

Plans were underway for a big Thanksgiving get-together. My kid sister would host, Mom was responsible for the guest list, and Uncle Bob would cover the cooking (his cornbread stuffing is unbeatable). Fantastic! Emails were flying and more arrangements were made. But then, a fly in the ointment: Grandma let it be known — quite vocally, I might add — that she no longer felt comfortable with air travel, and residing on the opposite side of the country left alternate means of transportation impossible. No Grandma at Thanksgiving?

There was more: cousin Rudy, driving down from Poughkeepsie, apprised us of last-minute work obligations that would keep him in town until the last minute, and he wouldn’t be able to make Thanksgiving dinner. This was followed by an email from Lydia: she just remembered that they’d be celebrating the holiday with her husband’s family this year, and “maybe we could say Hi by phone” to the rest of us that day.

This was turning out to be a disaster.

So far we’d be missing Grandma, cousin Rudy, and Lydia (with her new twins!). What kind of Thanksgiving would this be?

grannyI had an ace in my pocket: My conferencing account with allows for video calling — and it’s super easy to get going! I sent out my meeting link the day before our event. Fortunately, the instructions were minimal: Click the link at the appointed time then enter a screen name. Even Grandma could handle that!

As expected, the Thanksgiving meal was fantastic. The no-shows failed to dampen our spirits and Uncle Bob’s stuffing was better than ever. Just before dessert, I whipped out my laptop and logged into my account, setting up the video conference room. There was Grandma on her webcam, her shining countenance lighting up the whole room. Lydia and Rudy jumped in and we were all in the virtual room together! Even the twins got in on the action.

Despite the odds, Thanksgiving turned out to be a success! And I owe it all to free video calling. My family might be situated all over the country, but on that day it was like we were all in the same room. It was a perfect holiday!

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