Now back to the reason I'm writing...We've been planning a
basically since we got married. We figured it would be our time to include everyone that we wished could have been at our wedding. A time to publicly commit to one another with our all around. (The guest list was mostly mandated by my mother as well and we couldn't even include some of our nearest and dearest.)
Reading you blog has really spoken to me. In talking with my wonderful partner we share a lot of the ideals you talk about on your blog. There's only one problem. We've been married for three and a half years and have since lost a lot of valuable relationships. We live in Arizona with only our parents nearby. We never intended to lose the communities of people we grew up with, but somehow in all the craziness that is life instead of merging those communities we've really missed out on a lot.
I've already made a resolution to begin immediately. (I don't see much significance in waiting for a new year there is no time like the present.) I want to take the first step in reconnecting with the people that used to be so dear to us. I plan to send out an invitation that invites everyone to share their lives with us and to partake in ours. I want to put forth the effort to cultivate new beginnings, but I don't know what to do beyond the initial contact.
I've thought about a family newsletter. Scheduling times to call everyone. Getting together a list of emails. But I guess I just need some direction to get started. Do you have any suggestions to remake and then maintain relationships with family and friends?? Any advice is appreciated.
What a great topic to address! I think you've already got some great ideas.
Over the years, I've accumulated a lot of friends in various locations (e.g. high school, college, a summer of working at Space Camp, Summerbridge Cambridge, AmeriCorps, Teach For America, a seminar sponsored by the National Endowment for Humanities, KIPP, YES College Prep, a self-subsidized sabbatical, our honeymoon sailing trip around Greece, etc.).
For several years, I sent a monthly e-mail message called the Friends & Family Update. I would write about all of my adventures and misadventures for the month. I would also write about questions I was grappling with, books I had read, movies I had seen. Different people would respond to different updates. For example, one of my long-lost friends from high school e-mailed me in response to my complaint about trying to hold my dog's leash while we run. He suggested that I instead connect the leash to my waist. Brilliant! The list has kept me in touch with so many scattered friends.
I think the trick to any sort of mass communication (either e-mails, holiday letters, or newsletters) is authenticity and candor. Generic fluffiness is boring and contributes to the distance people already feel. The holiday letters I most appreciate are the honest ones. The ones that speak the truth about relationship struggles or insecurity or grief or sheer pride and excitement.
Other ways to stay connected include starting a blog (I use blogger, which is very user-friendly) or finding/communicating with friends through Facebook and Twitter. (Digression: You can now follow me on Twitter if you're interested!)
Also, there's nothing like the power of the telephone. I find that I'm personally more consistent about staying in touch when I designate specific times to call people (like calling a different person every Monday while driving home from work or every time I clean the house).
Birthday cards are another nice way of staying in touch. I used to look at my calendar at the beginning of every month and write birthday cards to all my friends/family. I would then put a sticky note on each of them that specified which day I needed to mail them during the month.
As I write about all of the things I used to do, I'm realizing that I'm letting myself fall out of touch with my nearest and dearest. It's easy to do when your inner circle is complete. Now that Matt is in my life, so many of my needs for companionship and comfort are satiated.
But you've reminded me that I don't want to lose touch with all of my scattered friends and family. Life has more vibrant color with them in it.
2000dollarwedding kindred spirits: How do you stay in touch with far-flung friends and family?