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 If you live far away from your beloved children and grandchildren, this article is for you. You’ve probably spent some teary days when missing birthday parties, music performances and sports events. You’d love to be part of your grandchildren’s daily life, but that isn’t the case.

And now the holidays are coming, that family-oriented time when we love to be together. If you’re not able to travel and be together this holiday season, here are some ideas for maintaining the strong bonds of love with the family.

First, be assured that the grandkids will treasure their bonds with you. When you are able to be together, be sure to spend quality alone time with each grandchild. Sharon Lovejoy’s excellent book, Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars give 130 ideas for fun activities to do with your grandchildren. The activities and special love shared in these times will be the mental picture that grandkids pull up when they think of you.

Make the effort to travel to be with the family whenever possible. The grandkids will rest assured that Grandma and Grandpa will be there whenever possible. But here you are with the holidays coming and you won’t be together this year. What can you do? Here are a few suggestions to let the love flourish even when you’re apart this year:

Stay in Touch

Call or Text

Don’t let the special day go by without scheduling a time to call and speak with each member of the family. Speaker phones allow you to talk to everyone at once if that is your choice. Be ready to share a funny story or joke, share a poem or an encouraging word. Make the call special and something to remember and treasure.

Old-fashioned Writing

Well ahead of time, send a card, letter or other form of writing. Hand-written notes are especially nice because your children and grandchildren can save them and perhaps place them on the refrigerator or on a bulletin board to be read and reread.

Video Chats

Technology may be a hassle for we seniors, but there are some advantages. You can Skype, make a gmail video call or use your smart phone for facetime. Real live pictures of the grandchildren do a lot for a grandparent’s sad heart.

Shared Activities

You can’t be together for the special holiday, but you can do some of the same activities and then share your experiences. You can go see the same movie and compare the experience. You can read the same book and share notes. Or how about doing a special holiday project through an organization like Heifer International or Samaritan’s Purse where the entire family gives a nice donation to buy a cow or goat for a poor family?

Use your call or video chat to talk about the next time you will be together. Maybe you’re planning a family reunion or a gathering for the next family birthday. Children love to anticipate a fun event and your heart will take some comfort that you will be together in a certain amount of time.

On the Home Front: Don’t be lonely.

When you have to be away from your family on a special day, you might consider that there are others in the same boat. Why not gather other couples or singles who will be alone for the holiday and enjoy a holiday meal together? You could even exchange names and buy small presents for one another. There are many ways to enjoy the holidays. 

Or, keep the home celebrations to a minimum, but go to a local community center where a holiday meal is served to the elderly, the poor or disadvantaged. Many shelters have special holiday observances that you might join.

Give something. Can you crochet or knit a warm hat for a homeless person? Can you make up gift bags to distribute to those on the street corners? Can you cook a nice dish to take to a family less fortunate? It feels good to be able to give something when your own family is far away.

Your family is so important. Do all you can to enjoy times together with them. But when they’re far away and you miss them, there are many ways to ease the pain. Be proactive. Take charge of your own experiences and you’ll have a very happy holiday season.

On a very happy note….

“A 6-year old was asked where his grandma lived. “Oh” he said, she lives at the airport and when we want her, we just go and get her. Then when it’s time for her to go, we take her back to the airport.”