89 thoughts on “Friendships during COVID

  1. I’m one who has few close friends. Three of them are the guys I coach with in the Hispanic Baseball League. I last saw them on January 24, when (a) we were getting together to plan the upcoming season and (2) Covid-19 was #1 on our agenda because one of the other three is an infectious disease doc and we wanted to know what he knew (honestly, not much on the Covid topic at the time). He happens to live in my larger neighborhood, about a mile from my house, so I have actually seen him a couple of times when he was out on his driveway/in his front yard when I was on my walk and we’d chat a bit.

    My BFF lives in Seattle. We talk every month-6wks-2mos, whenever the mood strikes, kind of frequent by guy standards. Obv no traveling to see each other, or meet in the middle (Bismarck or Fargo, ND would be the most logical), or the Bay Area where we’re both from, this year but I think we’d both like that.

    I’ve seen many other less-close friends around town the last 9mos, but those relationships are not on the same level.

  2. DH I think has had just as much contact with his friends during the pandemic. A lot of his friends are combo work and not-work friends, so he works and talks with them many days out of the week. Of course, we haven’t seen anyone. We have had a few zooms with friends (probably 1 for each set of couple friends, not a lot) and I have my zoom rehearsals most weeks since September (with a few-week break after we have recorded everything but before the concert comes out).

  3. I have 3 friends from high school and we all live in different parts of the country. We’d kind of lost contact for a while. Starting maybe 10 years ago, we started meeting up every couple years in person. And with the proliferation of Zoom after the pandemic, we realized we could start having regular zoom calls (we could have done this before the pandemic but didn’t really occur to us) – so that has been a plus.

    I have a couple friends that I’ve started regularly “meeting up” with for phone calls while we both walk around our respective neighborhoods during our lunch hour (we live in different neighborhoods so it would take to long to drive and meet up in person on a work day). And I have a couple other friends where we meet up in person for walks on the weekend. It’s been great to have those connections.

    I miss seeing my bookgroup in person. We did meet up outside a couple times this summer – but it’s too cold, wet and dark to do so now. We are meeting by Zoom tonight. It’s better than not meeting – but I find Zoom calls with 6-8 people tiring – takes more concentration on my part to figure out when to chime in and not talk over someone else.

  4. A really terrific hostess in my extended friend group has been hosting three Zoom get-togethers per week. Wednesday evening cocktails, Thursday morning coffee, and Sunday evening dinner. You don’t have to have cocktails or coffee or dinner. She explicitly states that you can just drop in and out for however long you want. It’s very informal. I’ve done a few of them, but the main social group is people I don’t know all that well. There are overlapping social circles, and the ones I know better tend not to be on the call when I am. Everyone’s perfectly nice, but I don’t know all the group shorthand, if you know what I mean. People set up their phones in their kitchens and wander around fixing dinner and shouting to the Zoom meeting.

    This particular woman, who is amazing in many regards, hosts an annual goose dinner at her house. If you see her post about it, you’re invited. This year of course it’s virtual, so she’s been posting all the recipes and sides and various options for people with restricted diets.

    I keep thinking I should do that — just set up a regular Zoom session and tell people to drop in and out as they can — but my social anxiety kicks in. It would help if DH would participate (this hostess’s husband is also very social and always participates), but he wouldn’t.

    It’s the drop in and out part that I really like, because I can get an odd panicky reaction if I know the Zoom session is an hour or 90 minutes or whatever, and again, my social anxiety kicks and I want to avoid it.

  5. I really want to complain about something but it’s going to come off like “You simply can’t get good help these days.” My Instacart shopper left my order at the wrong door and we can’t find it, and Corepower Yoga screwed up their Zoom class signup and I couldn’t get my class this morning. Is there no END to these terrible plague-related trials? I know, I know, fuck me.

  6. We had good friends in the US that we were sure we would never see again – they are not facebookers, they are not the type to chit chat on a phone call. The core of our relationship was that we were a great foursome – we could meet for dinner and have intense conversations until we realized the kids would turn into pumpkins if they didn’t get to bed soon.

    It seems really obvious in retrospect, but now we have monthly-ish zoom calls (which cause us to start drinking mid afternoon on the weekend). The relationship is surprisingly unchanged.

    Our kids (the the collective world’s kids) will have a really different relationship with distance and maintaining connection.

  7. RMS – that’s what we are here for. All vents welcome. And seriously – if you can’t vent here, where can you vent?

    And I would be irritated by both those things as well.

  8. What I have really missed during Covid is day-to-day interactions with people with whom I am friendly, but not friends. I am specifically thinking about various people at my office building, at my church, and at the Y where I used to go to exercise classes. The people I know at those places aren’t really friends (as in, I wouldn’t confide really sensitive stuff to them, and they are not people I would turn to in a time of need), but I really like them and have good relationships with them. These are people with whom I might shoot the breeze for a couple of minutes here and there about work, family, stuff going on around town, or whatever; but we’re not close enough that we would schedule zooms to catch up. I desperately miss all those little in-person interactions.

  9. I love the idea of setting up a standing zoom call and having being drop in and out as they want. I’m not sure I know enough people to make it work, though.

  10. On the direct topic, I only have one male friend locally, who I’ve mentioned in the past. I have more women friends. I have a few old college friends I keep in tough with on FB and such. I’ve gotten together some with my friend, although now in-person dining is shut down so we can’t really do much, and he and his DD coached the softball team with my DD and me so I saw him a lot then.

    I did a zoom dinner with one of my friends from NP school last week – we had planned on in-person but didn’t want to sit outside in 40 degree weather.

  11. Overall, I don’t miss the daily, little in-person interactions as much as I thought I would. I’m pretty chatty in day-to-day interactions at work, church, the store, etc. I’m finding that I’m getting enough social interaction through work (I’m on audio-only calls all day) and being with DH and the kids. I’m in a WhatsApp group with my siblings and Dad and we text about random stuff constantly. We’ve done a few Zoom calls and outdoor get togethers over the last few months. I text a few of my friends more often and have met up with a few who live nearby to go on walks. I figure this isn’t forever, so I’m trying to enjoy the lack of FOMO and being constantly busy.

  12. My husband chats electronically with many of his bridge partners during the online session, and has phone calls with many afterwards. He was never very good at face to face interactions in groups of more than 4. Having DD2 here for 2 months (she is the child of mine he gets along with best) was great for him. I have a once a week distanced coffee with a good friend, she has a large semi covered balcony and an outdoor heater. I can actually get other friends over 60 to chat on the phone again. I think I have engaged in 5 social group Zooms in the 9 mos, including family. He was on 2 of them. I find them awkward. The facetimes with medical providers are, OTOH, hugely convenient and preferable to office visits for most things.

  13. It’s been a bit awkward with my local friend group…we’re all on a group text and for awhile everyone was good with zoom or outdoor, socially distanced gatherings. Then a few people started in with “well I’d rather meet inside” and those of us who are being more careful don’t feel comfortable with that but also don’t want to start Covid wars within our friend group by insisting “no we’re having book club in Jane’s yard even if it’s 40 out. Dress warmly.”

    On the upside, during the lockdown, one of my best friends from college who I had mostly lost touch with reached out, and we picked right back up where we left off over Zoom.

  14. So I complained to Instacart, and they apologized and sent someone out to reshop the order. This time I got everything, AND someone else’s iceberg lettuce, bananas, garlic, and radishes. Again, as fast as I could, I texted the shopper, but no reply yet. His next customer is going to be irate.

  15. As an FYI, Zoom released functionality that users can choose their own breakout rooms. This can be helpful for larger groups. The host needs to create the rooms but the participants can float between rooms. So you can have rooms like, lets discuss tv shows, food and drink, movies, politics etc.

  16. Or for families, setup the grandparents in one break out room and then folks can rotate in from the larger room for some less chaotic interactions.

  17. RMS, I had that kind of Saturday. First, I went to get blood drawn for a dr appt this week. The person with the key to the location called in sick. The Phlebotomists there were the Saturday fill in crew. 3 employees + 15 people were waiting outside. A supervisor was called, but no answer. After 20 minutes of waiting, I went to another location. Then I went to Sprouts to pick up my grocery order. As I pull up, I get an text that the shopper (Instacart) didn’t show up and that my order was delayed. I cancelled the order and went in and shopped myself.

    I think there is definitely some fatigue with these types of positions or the systems are stretched to their limits.

    On the Zoom events, a friend has morphed her annual cookie/ornament exchange into a cookie decorating Zoom event. Looks promising…

  18. I found that I drifted away from some of my medium-close friends – the ones I would have had lunch once or twice a month with – especially when our kids had opposite schedules. It’s not that we don’t want to get together, but even when the weather was fine we were all very conscious of limiting our potential bubbles. Several have had to quarantine more than once because their kids were exposed.

    But with walks, calls and texts I am able to stay in touch with my closest friends. The first two months when we didn’t see anyone except on FaceTime were really hard, and I’m not looking forward to the next three months at all.

    My genius idea for January is to get myself some grown up advent calendars now and open them in January and February, when I expect we will be stuck in the house. Having even a small thing to look forward to will help.

  19. I want to point out that Walmart is killing it with their curbside service, and it’s still no extra charge. (I think I’ve said that here, but I can’t remember, because I know I’ve also posted it on Facebook when people have complained about Kroger.)

    And Walmart’s website feels like it’s a couple generations ahead of Amazon.

  20. And Walmart’s website feels like it’s a couple generations ahead of Amazon.

    Does Walmart sell things from third parties? The Amazon third party sellers drive me crazy.

  21. I’ve done in person, socially distant book club meet-ups and walks with friends. There are a few couples that we met with in person, all outside, during the warmer months. We are all reluctant to meet indoors now. Some are healthcare workers or teachers with students who’ve tested positive. I still meet friends for outdoor walks.

    We’ve done a bunch of Zoom happy hours. Those have been fun, and few of them went on for a couple of hours and escalated to the point where we all had a bit too much to drink, because what the hell, we’re not driving anywhere. A friend is planning a Zoom that will take the place of her annual Christmas party.

  22. I don’t think so. With their website, I’m specifically thinking of when you’re grocery shopping from your local Supercenter. Just search whatever term you want, the 20 most-applicable selections come up with small picture, size, price, and price per volume. You can click on the picture for more details/ingrdients, or click on add to cart. When you click on add to cart, it goes into the cart that’s a running list on the side of the screen, and you see that, and also a selector pops up with QTY 1 selected, and plus or minus if you want to adjust it. It’s all just a lot more fluid than Amazon where it’s constantly reloading pages, your cart is on a separate page, etc.

    I don’t quite know the right terms, but it flows so much better.

  23. Grrr it looks like they do:

    Currently, Walmart allows third-party sellers in 35+ product categories to offer their products on its Marketplace. From apparel and accessories to gourmet food and from health and personal care products to jewelry and computers and sporting goods, almost everything can be found on the ecommerce Walmart Marketplace.

    I’d totally be up for a service that only sold their own products. Or if they need to include third parties I don’t want to know anything about them, I don’t want them to contact me, I don’t want them to ask me to fill out a survey about my experiencing buying a new toilet paper holder, just send me the shit I order and be done with it.

  24. I’d agree with all that. You know, a major responsibility of being a retailer, a store, whatever, has, for hundreds of years, been the idea that you are selecting goods from suppliers and offering your own endorsement of quality and fitness.

    Now it’s like “eh, this third party affiliate matches some of your search terms in our algorithm. Good luck!”

  25. Yeah, Walmart sells third-party stuff. It really annoys me. Like Rhett, I want a vendor that only sells its own stuff.

    I haven’t tried Walmart’s curbside pickup specifically, but I’ve had very bad luck with both Safeway’s and Kroger’s versions, so I’m leery. I could give it a try, I suppose. And now Walmart has an app just like Sams Club so you can scan your items as you go and then pay in the app and walk right out the door! Haven’t tried theirs yet, but I love Sam’s. It’s soooo much faster.

  26. I’ve had really good success with Shipt. They text a picture after they’ve dropped the delivery off at your door. I usually order from Target for food though Shipt. I make quick stops to the nicer grocery store for items here and there.

  27. I’ve been using Walmart grocery pickup since before covid and ours has gone downhill. Twice my groceries haven’t been ready by the end of the appointed window. I’ve started targeting morning pickups only.

    Walmart is better than Kroger here because Walmart tells their shopper where to find the item and suggests substitutes for unavailable items. Kroger doesn’t know its inventory so can’t direct it’s own employees to the item on store. I walked in last week and purchased 5 “out of stock” items because I knew where to look.

  28. And now Walmart has an app just like Sams Club so you can scan your items as you go and then pay in the app and walk right out the door!

    They have that at some King Soopers now. I tried it and the first three items I scanned came up as “item not found” so I gave up.

    On deliveries, UPS and Fedex finally started ringing the bell when they drop off stuff so we know it’s there. The Amazon drivers still don’t.

  29. I don’t use instacart or shipt, so I’m not sure of the specifics, but recently one of those shoppers posted on the neighborhood site some insight into their assignments. I guess you indicate your tip when you order, so the bigger tip orders are given to the shoppers who have the best ratings. If you provide a smaller tip, the second or third tier shoppers are getting your order, and thus the potential for more errors.

    Not that I think any totebaggers are skimping on the tip, but just some food for thought when you are ordering.

  30. My favorite local posts regarding insta/shipt are when the shoppers buy too much….such as “does anyone need russet potatoes? I order 4 potatoes and got 4 bags of potatoes?”

    Those shoppers are moving so fast in the store I’m surprised I don’t hear about more errors.

  31. Whenever I want to get something from Walmart or Target now, I make sure that before I bother looking at any search results I filter them to make sure I only see products sold by Walmart and Target, not any third parties.

    On Walmart it is a box under the Retailer tab, but on Target I have to limit it to Target brands under the brands tab. And that filters out the Magnolia brand for some reason.

  32. Walmart has continued to update their app during the pandemic and I agree they are light years ahead of most. For those who are interested, when you open the app, you choose your adventure first – grocery pickup & delivery or online order (shipping to you). If you choose the grocery pickup, you are only offered items for sale in their store The third party choices only show up in their online fulfillment side….and they seem very obvious to me as the pricing is always way out of line.

    A couple of recent issues – though I am still mostly please with their service: 1) an online order was partially delivered from my local store. Literally left in a bag on my front porch with a note that they were ensuring prompt delivery by delivering from a local store rather than shipping. It was very odd because it was two small scented lotions that I’d added to the basket to get to the shipping minimum. 2) I went to pickup a grocery order yesterday at 9am (same strategy as WCE). When I got there, I couldn’t check in, so called to find out that the app prioritizes giving you a speedy pickup time….and does NOT HIGHLIGHT the fact that they’re giving you pickup options not at your closest store. At least warn me!

    Target is not as good at meeting the full basket of needs – but if what you want is something they offer for pickup (not everything in their store is eligible), our store is super fast, They don’t have the scheduling feature, they just send you a message when it’s ready – promised to usually be within 4 hours, and then you can stop by anytime in the next few days, I often get a message within an hour or two that my order is ready.

    My weekend productivity was greatly hampered when I thoughtlessly grabbed the cast iron skillet handle that I had just removed from a 500 degree oven. Not bumped into, like wrapped my hand around the handle to move it. I thought I was headed to urgent care or something, because I couldn’t bear to take my hand out of cool water for 3 or 4 hours, and I even slept (kinda) in a recliner overnight so I could leave my hand in a bowl of water. However, after 12 hours of mostly being in water, and then a day of aloe gel or Vaseline under a cotton glove, I woke up today and my hand is basically magically healed. I’m telling you, I feel like a bionic woman.

  33. “UPS and Fedex finally started ringing the bell when they drop off stuff so we know it’s there.”

    If you had a Ring doorbell, or something similar, that wouldn’t matter. And you’d know they dropped stuff off even when you’re not home.

  34. Our total grocery shopping has gotten very efficient. Instead of going to the store frequently we are down to twice a week. We are also tending to consolidate our shopping. I have my list organized exactly in the order of the store aisles. In the Before Times, I was somewhat organized but now it’s perfection. Going earlier in the morning when the cashiers just get in, means I check out in very little time. I would like to do the scan app but I have lots of produce and I am wondering if it would work well.

  35. Finn – unbelievably no. A little red and shiny, but no puffiness like blisters are forming.

  36. Does anyone know anything about the National Hispanic Scholar award from the College Board?

  37. “unbelievably no. A little red and shiny, but no puffiness like blisters are forming.”

    So, in effect, you got sunburned. I’m glad it wasn’t any worse than it was, and I think your prompt and extended played a big part.

  38. Cassandra, one of my colleague’s daughters received the National Hispanic Scholar award. She got a nice package from Arizona’s Barrett Honors College. I don’t know if the specific award or her general academic profile (she was also a SWE scholarship winner) earned her the package.

  39. Cass, yes, I believe WCE knows something about it. IIRC, she’s mentioned educating someone she knows about it so that person’s kid was able to take advantage of some of the opportunities associated with it.

    Some schools offer benefits similar to what they offer NMF, e.g., merit aid, entrance to honors college. I believe ASU and DD’s DS’ school are among those offering such benefits.

  40. I desperately miss all those little in-person interactions.

    This is one aspect of not speaking the language has been hard for me here. When I’m in the elevator or waiting in line at the canteen I can’t make small talk. Or worse, when I do get up the courage to speak a few sentences to someone, inevitably they will start speaking back to me. Then I’m screwed because I don’t know what they’re saying, and I have to mumble that I don’t understand, and then I beat myself up for not being fluent in this language. It’s a whole ridiculous circle.

    On the original topic I’ve probably kept in touch with friends from home more than I would have otherwise. Since we had nothing else to do, we set up zoom calls. However, it’s made making friends here very difficult. I started a book club, but we were only able to meet once before we got put back under lockdown. Over the summer I had started making friends with another group, but the friendships were so new that once lockdown started they were hard to nurture. Making friends is hard under normal circumstances. Being under government lockdown adds another layer of complexity.

  41. I’m pretty isolated these days, between Covid blocking me from joining the groups/ activities I want to do to meet new people and Facebook kicking me off unless I upload my ID. The friends I’m in touch with are all in other places, some just an hour or two away, some back in the US, but it’s all digital, no in-person visits for now.

    Btw, I found out today why they confiscated our passports for so long. The woman I was corresponding with realized that taking them was a mistake, so it wasn’t her job. No one told me that until I chased around a couple sites of the foreigners office this morning.

  42. J-M, keep it up! It can be hard to muster up the courage to say anything, because you know that return barrage is coming, but it’s the best way to learn. You can do it.
    My French is lousy. The other day someone passed me on bikes just as we stopped at a light at the end of a bridge. She turned to talk to people behind me, in French. I was so excited that I understood that she was wondering if the could turn left to go to Alexanderplatz. Yay! I wanted to answer—they could turn there, or go a block further and then ride directly beside the S-Bahn to get to Alex. But by the time I worked out that I could not say that in French, doing it in German was silly since none of us spoke it (apparently) as a native language, and I should see if they had enough English, it was too late. They were already all turning to follow the river. Oh well.

  43. I am reading about the supply chain/logistics of the Covid vaccine and that makes me very interested. The cold trucks, the planes, the last mile to the hospital in the middle of the holiday shopping plus scheduling of the hospital staff around their shifts while they take care of Covid patients.
    There are husband and wife teams of big rig drivers who are specifically chosen for their safe driving record to deliver the vaccines. One of those teams transported our cars from the Northeast. It was such accurate scheduling. Our cars were delivered within a day or so of us landing here.

  44. “Facebook kicking me off unless I upload my ID.”

    Whaaaa? Facebook wants people to upload their IDs?

    SM, I may have missed an update, but I am relieved to hear that your passports were returned. That situation was really concerning.

  45. Sunshine – wow you dodged a bullet with your quick treatment!

    I’ve only used delivery not pickup and had mostly good experience with both Target Shipt and Amazon Fresh. AFAIK, neither lets you specify the tip amount before your order is fulfilled. I’ve been tipping generously, even when a shopper screws up. The screw ups have been minor, and refunds or adjustments are promptly made. More often it’s me who screws up, like forgetting to remove an item from my cart or ordering the wrong thing. Early on I placed a Shipt order of chips and salsa using their regular shipping service instead of same-day grocery. I received three different packages on three days – one of salsa, one of chips brand A, and another of chips brand B. All free shipping because of the Shipt subscription.

    Speaking of social anxiety, from reading a few of Mindy Kaling’s free Amazon Prime booklets I learned she has serious social anxiety that affects her deeply. I don’t really know her work but I’ve just heard of her success and it was surprising to learn that.

    My H has actually been more social during the pandemic, reaching out to friends and relatives via Zoom that he normally would only see infrequently in person.

  46. Off topic, but in reply to the person who posted that complaint regarding people posting whole articles and it being hard to scroll on a phone, do you know that if you have the scroll bar showing on the right side of the screen and you click and hold (you will feel a little vibration), you can scroll really fast to the bottom of the screen. This works on iphones, not sure about others. I saw a video about it on Tik Tok yesterday and tried it out. It is really useful!

  47. “I thoughtlessly grabbed the cast iron skillet handle that I had just removed from a 500 degree oven.”

    that’s so easy to do, because your brain just sees the same handle that it normally grabs without any incident.

  48. Sunshine, I’m glad it wasn’t worse!

    I must be a misanthrope, because I don’t miss those little in-person interactions at all! Most of the time when a person talks to me like you all describe I would rather not respond, or say “f off” or similar. (I don’t do any of those things!) I do miss gossiping with my assistant at work, but we do a fair amount of that on our zoom calls (on which I have clients sign their documents) while we are waiting for the clients to show up.

  49. Sunshine you have some good first aid skills !

    I miss the banter of my colleagues, though increasingly people had started WFH more and more. I don’t know how many of us will choose to go back when we are allowed to. At this rate, it will probably be after the vaccine has been rolled out to everyone.
    I see and say hi to my neighbors more these days. I realized that a bunch of us now have older kids and have more time to ourselves than in years past, so perhaps an opportunity to strengthen those friendships.

  50. We never got around to making a Christmas card this year. So my mini end-of-year resolution has been to write a personal response to everyone who still sends us a card, and I open by explaining that. My kids have fallen for Hallmark movies, so when they’ve recruited DW to watch with them in the evenings, this is what I’ve been doing.

    I use Facebook Messenger, which works well because it tends to encourage people to write back quickly. I’ve written some pretty long notes recently, and had some good conversations. .

  51. Milo, that’s very cool.

    DW decided to write one of the dreaded Christmas letters this year to include with our cards. We actually got a few texts/emails from people saying how much they liked it. I assume they are really mean it because otherwise they wouldn’t have said anything.

    Are we the only ones who have gotten a lot fewer Christmas cards over the last five years or so? DW likes to tape them to the back of the front door and we used to almost cover the whole thing. Last year we received maybe 10. We’ve gotten 5 so far this year.

  52. DD – people love to talk about the “dreaded” Christmas letters, but I always enjoy reading them, although I’ve never written one. A few are certainly cringeworthy (and these can be the most fun), but many are open, genuine, self-deprecating and not in a fake way.

    Definitely fewer cards this year.

  53. I sent out a self made card this year, printed by Staples instead of using the more fancy card company templates. I wasn’t up to scrolling through the templates and choosing one. Doing my own card meant, I could incorporate DD’s art as the back of the card. I couldn’t find a card company that allowed me to do this, though I have received cards with kid artwork from others.
    Some in the family have gone to taking formal pictures on Christmas Day and posting those on social media as their card.

  54. We (this really means DW, but I am helping in some small ways) are farther ahead on our gifting, card sending, overall pre-Christmas prep than in prior years. Which I attribute to
    (1) DW finally catching on that when our kids and nieces/nephews say they want gift cards to X or cash, as grubby as that may sound, they really mean it and we’ve gone more that way than in prior years
    (2) only having the fake tree in the living room vs having that and also the real tree in the family room. Several hours (= at least part of an afternoon + 1 evening, some years more) in the tree acquisition, trimming, etc.
    (3) This year’s card is a flat card vs a foldover. I know that leaves less space for DW to write the personal message, so each card takes less time (flying in the face of Twain’s “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote a long one.”).
    (4) We’re here earlier each day/evening and have cut back on our TV/streaming time, so we’ve gotten a little more done each day.
    It’s just possible, maybe, I hope, that we’ll be “done” (except for the ‘response’ Christmas cards to people culled from the list who still send us one, and deciding what we’re having for dinners on Christmas Eve, Christmas) by Thursday and all mailing/UPS* will be done if a few remaining in-transit things actually show up)

    *UPS is often much cheaper than USPS especially if you use the promo code EASY when you check out online. More reliable, IMO, even when both provide tracking.

    DD – we definitely get fewer cards than vs a few years back. No more kid activities + older relatives dying off.

    Question for the group who have grown kids but not marrieds/permanently partnered: how long do you keep including them in the “from” part of the card vs just saying Love, Fred & Ethel? Do you remember when you started sending cards on your own? I might never have sent/been included on any if I hadn’t gotten married. And sending holiday cards really wasn’t a thing my mom did (a) nominally Jewish (b) small circle of friends.

  55. HFN, I’m trying to just be relieved to have them back again, but “oops we goofed” somehow doesn’t seem appropriate for the stress of wondering for so long what awful things await in conjunction with confiscated passports. The running around this morning started with the department for people who entered illegally, where they quickly determined the passports were no longer in their office. An upside is that the worker I spoke to in the end seemed to be genuinely helpful. I don’t think that’s a common quality among immigration officers in any country.

    About the Facebook thing—I’m really undecided. That is not a company I want to give my ID to (and I think of that as a thing governments do). Otoh, I want to get back into the profile I had built up. There are some groups I know I miss, but there were other smaller ones that occasionally posted good stuff.

  56. tree acquisition, trimming, etc.

    I was in my 30s before I figured out that “tree trimming” means decorating the tree. I always thought it meant literally trimming the tree like you do with trees and shrubs in your yard. I never heard that term when I was growing up, and I’ve always had a fake tree. I thought people who got real trees would trim them to even them up or such.

    DD – people love to talk about the “dreaded” Christmas letters, but I always enjoy reading them,

    So do I Milo, especially the ones from people we aren’t in touch with otherwise. I like finding out what people have been up to.

    Question for the group who have grown kids but not marrieds/permanently partnered: how long do you keep including them in the “from” part of the card vs just saying Love, Fred & Ethel?

    We’re not there yet, but my thinking is until they move out. We’ll see when we get to that point.

    This works on iphones, not sure about others.

    It doesn’t seem to work on Android.

  57. Rocky’s yoga problem reminds me of a post elsewhere in which someone solicited online yoga instruction. I suggested my Tampa instructor, who has since moved to Boston, and other suggestions came from around the globe. It was really cool to see how easy it is to access other places so easily. That was my expectation when the internet started—that I’d have friends in many places around the world, and looking up what was happening in Taipei would be as easy as looking at local listings. Hasn’t happened yet, but who knows. I know my parents have been choosing various church services.

    L’s comment on her choir group reminds me that I’d like to find kind of digital karaoke for Christmas carols. Our family usually sings them together around the piano Christmas night. My grandma loved to play the piano while we all sang (she also played at church, and played for people in the old folks home until she was in her mid 80s). Now it’s my BiL’s job—for the last 30 years—and he is sick of it.

    Fred, have you & your friend met up at reunions?

    “ I desperately miss all those little in-person interactions” is what my son says about Germans. Lol, but no lie.

    “no we’re having book club in Jane’s yard even if it’s 40 out. Dress warmly.” reminds me that my young man had a first date entirely outdoors in a park recently. Guess you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.

    Rocky, interesting that you’d prefer Walmart not use 3rd parties, but you keep up with corporate fuckery of instacset worksrs.

  58. I recall telling a college friend that I wanted to stay in touch “for real, not in that once-a-year-at-Christmas-time kind of way”. Little did I know that a solid update once a year would be more than many friendships get.

    I made a mistake when we moved here and dropped out of touch with some friends, thinking I’d pop out with “Tadaa” once we were all set up here, didn’t know how badly I’d do getting going. Now I don’t know how to contact them—Tadaa after a couple years is awkward.

  59. Great news about the passports, SM. Sunshine, I have a propensity for kitchen burns and know know all the tricks. Sleeping with your hand in-the cold water is Olympic level home first aid. I have several of these for the skillet from the oven handle. I use potholder to remove to stove top, Then put something like these on.

  60. There appears to be an app you can install that will mimic the iPhone behavior.

    I want my phone to be as little like an iPhone as possible :)

    You’re getting in your own way here. Just reach out and say hi. People don’t care about the tadaa. They just want to say hi to their friends.

    I agree. They will be happy you reached out.

  61. that’s so easy to do, because your brain just sees the same handle that it normally grabs without any incident.

    I was at a dinner party a while back and the host was making something in this:

    Presumably based on past experience there was a constant flow of warnings, “Just because it’s blue doesn’t mean it’s cold!”

  62. “I see and say hi to my neighbors more these days.”

    Yes, I have replaced my banter with coworkers with banter with neighbors. One of the upsides of the pandemic is that I have gotten to know a lot of neighbors a lot better. People that I knew a little bit before we have conversations with on a daily basis – mostly about little things like sports or a new restaurant going up or neighborhood gossip or their dogs or kids. I really enjoy it.

  63. @Fred – My aunt & uncle with the 5th year senior in college went with “The MacMurrays”. They’ve also gotten away from the family photo card & are doing a landscape or other things. This approach seems to be pretty popular with the parents of half-launched kids. Mostly, I see “Fred & Ethel” when the kids are all graduated from college & out of the house. But you have to take them all off at once – that’s the tricky part. You can’t just take off the oldest ones. Hence “The MacMurrays”.

  64. “ You can’t just take off the oldest ones”

    Well you could, if you wanted to start some wild stories, lol

    Thanks, Denver & Rocky. This is probably the easiest time to reach out.

  65. At this point we still include our young adult kids on our Christmas card. I list their names. We’ve moved a lot, and our Christmas card list includes people who knew the kids when they are little. I really enjoy seeing my friends’ young adult kids that I haven’t seen since they were in third grade. Now a lot of cards we receive include grandkids, too. Sometimes, it is just our friends and their grandkids. But pretty much never just our friends. This has definitely changed over the years. I’m sure once I went to college, I was no longer in my parents’ Christmas cards. Oh, and I love Christmas letters. Even the one I snarked about here a couple of years ago, that referenced 3 of the four sons’ perfect ACT scores, and how that doesn’t put any pressure on son #4 because we’re all special in our own way. This year, they have a Harvard law grad and a Bain consultant, and I’m delighted!

  66. Ivy – good idea. Maybe going with the MacMurrays and a no photo card next year is a possibility.

    I haven’t even broached the idea with DW yet; baby steps. I kinda figured DS2 & GF might send their own cards this year since they’re living together; they have their shit together much more than DS1 & GF who, although also living together, would never even think to send cards. But as millennials maybe they would/will just post something to Insta and be done with it.

  67. Fred – If there was a family wedding coming up, would you expect your kids to get their own invitations, or would they be grouped in with yours? Would they bring their own gifts, or piggy back off yours and DW’s?

    On the topic of very petty rants and annoyances, I always felt like DW’s aunt and uncle wanted their DD, DW’s cousin, in “protected kid status” for way too long. One example of this was we had a big group out on the boat, which included my parents, my in-laws, this aunt and uncle, and cousin and her DH. We went out to lunch, and as you would expect, the parents and older adults all say that they’ll split the check among themselves because DW and I are the ones providing the boat. But then Uncle motions to Cousin and her DH telling them not to contribute their credit card, “it’s fine, we got it.”

    Obviously, I have no standing here to seek damages, because I wasn’t going to be paying anything regardless. But WTF? They’re adults, they both work. Uncle is screwing over my parents and in-laws in that transaction (although they were completely oblivious to it and wouldn’t much care).

    Now, I can’t entirely blame the Cousin for this because in a similar situation, she reacted the opposite way. In Before Times, when uncle and aunt rent a beach house, they’d often invite us for a couple days. This has been going on long before I was ever in the picture, and when DW was a teenager, she provided free babysitting one or two nights (if she was staying most of the week). In our case, we’d always take them out to dinner one night.

    I believe it was the last time we were doing this, and I was picking up the check for everyone, that cousin and her DH indicated that they would pay for themselves. In other words, it’s not THEIR beach house rental that they’re providing. I believe I said “Oh it’s fine, we got it,” but she earned some respect from me with that gesture.

    So, conclusion is that I think it’s a good thing for 20-something “kids” to make it known that they are independent adults, and, in fairness, for others to treat them this way. That means they get their own invitations, separate email correspondence for big gatherings, etc.

    Funny anecdote that just popped into my head: Aunt (the same aunt as above) spent a career in HR, and it has always bled into her regular thinking and personal correspondence. She also used to insist on hosting a family party with a Secret Santa gift exchange. So you buy one present and you get one present. However, adults were free (encouraged) to buy presents for all the kids, which, for many years, simply meant mine. And then Cousin was a college student, and she sends out the invite explaining the rules of the Secret Santa drawing and so forth, and she mentions the kids, and goes on to define “kids” as anyone who is under the age of five OR is a full-time student.

  68. Once I left home in my early twenties, my parents did not include me in their cards or invites. I sent out my own cards and corresponded with family and friends on my own. When my parents friends kids got married and I was notified by them of the wedding or received an invite, I sent a card or a gift. The same process followed with my brother. Close friends of my parents and family have appreciated that I have kept in touch and like to see pictures of my kids every year.

  69. Milo, not sure if I’ve got the relations entirely perfect, but if several siblings are out to dinner, some with adult kids, I would expect that if one told another “don’t worry, we’ve got it”, that should apply to them covering their own offspring. So 10’people—you & wife, 6 people in the generation above you, 2 in your generation—if one of the olders want to cover one of the youngers, then they should pay half the check—2 quarters of your & DW’s part, their part, and their adult kids part.

  70. SM – right, they could do that, but didn’t. It was a quick standard consensus of “everyone who did not host us on their boat today will put in their credit card and split the bill and gratuity evenly.” So if you tell your own kid and her husband not to add their credit card, you’re pushing that portion onto the rest of the paying group.

  71. Sending cards—there’s a difference between signing your kids names (ok through high school, or maybe as long as they live with you) and including them in your news round-up (forever, if you wish). There are plenty of your parents’ friends who have a passing interest in how you are doing but don’t necessarily to move the relationship up a notch. This is another thing I think social media might change. I noticed cross-generational Facebook “friendships” from my home town.

  72. yeah, I agree with that. I don’t see any issue with including any and all grown kids on your card. it’s just an update.

  73. “Fred – If there was a family wedding coming up, would you expect your kids to get their own invitations, or would they be grouped in with yours? Would they bring their own gifts, or piggy back off yours and DW’s?”

    I would expect DS1 (& maybe GF, depending on how people view living in sin) and DS2, same situation, to get their own, since they’re both out and on their own. DS3, lumped in with us for now. But if he’s in his own place, and likely NYC area not here, when the invites go out then he should get his own. Maybe some invites come to our house because the guys’ addresses aren’t known, but they should be separate at that point. Gifts…they could piggy back on ours, I guess. Haven’t thought about this.

  74. For weddings and such, If they live at the same address one invitation and a piggy back on the gift. If they are very recently launched, perhaps shifting addresses, same. Separate household, over 25, especially with established SO, separate invitation. Married, even if living parents house, separate invitation. Piggy back on the gift depends on prosperity of kids and whether cash is the expected medium. It took me years to realize that almost no bride wants your thoughtfully selected item, and certainly no teenager of her parents.

  75. I love getting cards! I want a big display of them on a door somewhere – probably somewhat childish.

    This year I decided to get my sh!t together early. Mid november I sent out 40+. Magically, I could have Shutterfly address the envelope and mail, so they were mailed within the US. It was my secret trick for prompting everyone to send me a card and giving them our new address.

    To date, I have received…..exactly zero. I think the NZ/US postal service does not interface well. A letter we sent to D.C. in July was bounced back to us in November for forgetting the zip code. Twice across the US because the USPS couldn’t look up the code for us. (It was an honest mistake. But for the roughly $72 stamp a single piece of paper requires, I thought they could help out.)

    I’m sure that I will have tonnes of cards by February.

  76. I agree with Meme on the weddings. Our last family event in the Before Times was a family wedding. College DS was lumped in with our invitation/gift; the older guys (over age 25) received their own invitations and sent their own gifts via the bride’s registry.

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