When I was a little girl, my Grandmother lived in Durban, South Africa. My family lived in Calgary, Alberta. Because she was on the other side of the continent, we only saw her every few years. Phone calls were rare due to the expense. We also had to juggle time changes, various phone company operators and unreliable connections. Often, depending on what phone exchange we ended up using, the operator was not fluent in English.
As an alternative to long distance telephone calls, my Grandma would send a reel-to-reel tape in the mail every few weeks. I remember my Dad taking it out of the package and carefully stringing the ribbon-like tape through the player. We would all gather around and listen.
My grandmother would tell us the latest news from the local neighborhood. She would tell us about her garden. She would describe her last visit to the outdoor market and what she wore to church on Sunday. Often, she would read a letter she received from our cousin in Australia. It was wonderful to hear her voice and to be a part of her world two oceans away.
When we were finished listening to her tape, we would all take turns recording our news, in the same manner, to send back to her. This practice of recording tapes and sending them back and forth gave us all a deep sense of connection despite the miles between us.
Today, there is much technology to keep us connected to loved ones living far away. We no longer have to worry about the cost of long distance phone calls or finding an operator in the middle of the night to route the call. Our communication is instant -texting, face-time, facebook, Instagram are only a few.
However, I sometimes think that instant communication doesn’t always mean meaningful communication. Those tapes we sent back and forth years ago were planned and took time to put together. Gathering as a family to listen gave us a sense of belonging.
I would challenge you to take time to plan what you want to say. Take a moment to consider your message before you hit record or upload your latest video.
Meaningful communication sends the message that you are loved and valued. This I believe is what everyone wants.