In Person Communication

We’ve sunk into the beauty of Christmas Vacation.

The bar is stocked, Christmas lights are hung, the living room is regularly vacuumed and our fridge and pantry are bursting with party treats. First, we began with cocktails with a friend from high school.

The seasons of friendship do change and it takes years to discover what lies in store. At one time, I thought this friendship passed, we had seen too much, said too much, and then came the day when it seemed no longer worth it to hold on to or think too deeply about those moments. This friendship is more. So she came. Two drinks and four hours later, our goodbyes were only motivated by the rolling fog and lateness of the hour. Yet the conversation might have gone on.

Other plans dot the calendar.

A set of friends we’ve not seen in 2022. The husband was my husband’s groomsman at our wedding. A lot of life has happened over those years and these annual visits are all they and we can spare.

A themed party at another family’s house. I broke out of the vintage furs and we played an overly dramatic rendition of “O Holy Night” showing it is possible to be totally free with others outside our immediate family.

Yesterday there was a Nutcracker tea party, not for myself, but for my daughters and their friends. Tea sandwiches, cookies and chocolate on tiered servers and eight tea options, with boiling water decanted into a blue Danube coffee pot. They helped themselves pouring into Noritake china tea cups, sitting around the coffee table as Tchaikovsky’s music delighted them.

Coffee this morning with a friend from my working-outside-the-house days. We’ll talk Shakespeare and education and maybe a little about child development now that we both have children developing. My husband will play “baristo” with our drink orders and then take the boys to play video games so we can minimize interruptions.

New friends and old.

Emerging seasons overlap that which has matured and aged. Our children grow and enter into the landscape. Interests and occupations likewise evolve.

But for once, I am not reflecting too much, just simply delighting in this idea of savoring the moment and interaction before me, storing up these treasures. Christmas can be the impetus to get us to reach out and make the invitation.

But what we do after that matters.

A thought might come to mind, so I text a friend who lives in Waterford.

I see a quirky antique, snap a photo and send it over to Instagram to a friend in Indiana.

On a walk, I leave a long voicemail through Telegram to a friend in South Korea.

It’s instant communication, the kind my Chinese grandmother would never have dreamed of being able to use to connect with her cousins. Yet, it is just one kind of communication. It has its place, its blessings and its curses.

There are other kinds as well.

There is the conversation between two moms, regularly scanning the room to see where their toddlers are, getting up, continuing the topic, or sitting back down and losing it entirely.

There is the intellectual discussion on literature, digging in, uncovering themes, then sitting back in satisfaction as the discovery of ideas reached its peak.

There is the intimate sharing of life experiences, with tears welling up from time to time. Maybe the talk stops altogether as one friend opens her heart enough to cry the tears she stored up alone.

Text messages and social media cannot compare to this.

This vacation I relearned the value of simply calling a friend up, or texting to schedule. We get the calendars out, using those tools we learned professionally to make the date happen.

Getting together in-person makes space for all those other times of communication.

It’s been a full vacation, a good vacation. Life will get busy again, but for now, we soak it up, parties, coffee time, movies, fires in the fireplace, hot cocoa, hot buttered rum, and a whole lot of togetherness – turned inward, not into oneself, but into family life, into relationships. And through that, reinvigorating the part of ourselves that is so easy to let go in this stage of life. And then, through that, finding a fuller, happier way to live.

Champagne Toast
Photo by Kateryna Hliznitsova on Unsplash
Previously published in the weekly column, “Here’s to the Good Life!” in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.