5 Ways to Stay Connected This Thanksgiving

By 13 October 2020

5 Ways to Stay Connected This Thanksgiving

During this unprecedented time in our history, we had to adapt to what's being called the "new normal." This means that what we knew as normalcy (e.g. going to the park, restaurants, etc.) has evolved into one that lives within the context of public health practices, such as social distancing, limited gatherings, and the usage of personal protection equipment. This social change has become more pronounced during the holidays, because it is a time of family gatherings.

What happens when an old tradition that is fundamental to the culture of America collides with the drastic changes caused by the global pandemic? Well, there is no other option but to adapt. This is the new normal, at least for now. The silver-lining to the pandemic occurring during this time period is the fact that we live in a technologically-advanced age. We are living in the Internet Age, otherwise known as the Information Age, where communication is cheaper (usually free), easier and is offered through a variety of digital platforms.

In this article, we'll look at five ways to stay connected with loved ones this Thanksgiving, so that you can still practice old traditions whilst still protecting each other from health risks.

1. Zoom Family Gatherings

Thinking about Thanksgiving gatherings being conducted through a computer or TV screen might sound like a damper on the holiday spirit, but it can actually be quite fun!

The video conferencing platform Zoom has become almost ubiquitous during the pandemic because companies had to change their way of working and collaborating. While video conferencing has been around for decades, and we have to give Skype and Google Hangouts a shout-out for being pioneers in this market, it was Zoom that became the top group communication program of 2020. If we had to guess, its popularity is probably due to its affordable price (last time we checked they offered 40 minutes free for video calls) and good audio quality.

However, Zooming quickly evolved out of the virtual boardrooms and classrooms, and went mainstream in the public. Podcasters and talk shows used it to talk to guests. It became a new form of media and, in a sense, its own type of social media. Nowadays, you can use Zoom, which was initially designed for business purposes, for personal gatherings. For instance, it has become popular among family and friends to do weekly or even daily meetings via Zoom. This allow family and friends to check on each other during this public health crisis. You can also do fun things like Taco Tuesdays, Wine Club Wednesdays, or a book club. There are so many ways to use video conferencing programs!

Afterwards, with the permission of all parties involved, you can even upload your recorded video meet-up on a Memories Timeline so that members of the Timeline, such as family who couldn't join, can listen in on the conversation and laugh out loud to your jokes.

This Thanksgiving is the perfect time to use Zoom to talk with family and friends from across the country, or even abroad. That way, not everyone has to go to one house for a family Thanksgiving dinner. For example, family close to you can go to your house for a limited-group dinner, while family from a different area can gather together and have their own dinner. All of you can then place a wide-angle webcam encapsulating the entire table to have a cluster of Thanksgiving dinners.

Conversations, jokes, friendly debates, unsolicited opinions and gossip will surely mix interestingly when it's multiplied! In all seriousness, this will allow for a safer Thanksgiving gathering while still enjoying each other's presence.

2. Group Chats

Similar to the rise of Zoom and Skype video calls, another popular form of connecting with your family and friends is through group chats on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Discord, Telegram, Viber, and multiple other free apps available in the market.

Group chats are fun and allows you to stay in the loop with different groups, each with its own flavor. For example, you can create a private group with the whole family, cousins only, best friends, somewhat-close friends, co-workers, old classmates, and the list goes on. You can create a Thanksgiving group chat, so that you can all have animated conversations like you would in person.

3. Memories Timeline Project

Although the essence of Thanksgiving Day is to give thanks for what you have and the wonderful people in your life, the pillar of this unique holiday is family bonding. Despite the many holidays that take place in the United States, Thanksgiving (along with Christmas) is the one that you try your best to attend with your family, no matter how far you are from home.

During this time of distancing, make the distances between you and your loved ones feel shorter by collaborating on a family group project. The Autumn season evokes feelings and visions of nostalgia, so why not work on a digital family memory book? A digital memory book is a cross between a traditional family scrapbook or photo album, and a social media page or online family tree.

For instance, a Memories Timeline is a secure and user-friendly alternative to blog sites like WordPress and Tumblr, or even social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. What makes a Memories Timeline unique is it has the same capabilities as all the major blog sites and social media platforms, but is specially designed to present and share your family's personal narrative.

What better project to do this Thanksgiving than to create a family timeline! Since you'll probably spend a lot of time online anyways, communicating with family, you all can collaborate and bond creating a Memories Timeline all the while making new memories in real-time.

4. Netflix Party

If you thought the video streaming phenomenon couldn't get anymore popular, then wait until you learn about Google Chrome's Netflix Party extension. The plugin allows everyone to synchronize playback and features a group chat so you can bombard the chat with laughing emojis while watching a comedy film together. If you don't have Chrome, you can download it for free. Likewise, the Netflix Party plugin is free, but take note that you can only use it on your desktop or laptop. If you have a Chromecast device, you could cast your screen to the TV.

This is a great way to spend time after dinner. In my own family, we love horror movies and we would watch a couple of them after Thanksgiving dinner. Although it's not quite the same as gathering together in a dark living room, the Netflix Party is the next best thing. The group chat is sure to have hilarious gems.

5. Thanksgiving Jam Session and Dance Party

If you have Spotify, you and your family or friends can collaborate on a group playlist. Don't know where to start? Check out our curated Thanksgiving playlist.

The best part is that collaborating on a playlist doesn't require a Premium account. Be warned though that those with free accounts can only add songs using a desktop or laptop.

The collaboration on building the playlist is only half the fun. Next, get on Zoom or Skype and have a Thanksgiving dance competition. Let's see who can do the Turkey Trot the best! If you're looking for a more relaxed post-dinner vibe, you can use the playlist as a soothing soundtrack to the group conversation.