Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I've decided that acclimating to this new digital world is all about playing along.
You know. You try to "act as if."
In other words, you act as if you don't have a stomach ache and then — your stomach ache actually goes away.
Or, you're afraid to do something, you do it anyway, and suddenly you're not scared anymore.
Well, that's how I approached the invitation I received recently to attend a virtual baby shower.
Virtual as in, the mother-to-be was in absentia.
Several states away, in fact.
My niece, Jessie, recently moved from Seattle to Charlottesville, Va., and, being eight months pregnant, thought it best not to travel to Maine for her second baby shower. The first was held in Virginia.
So, we women in her Maine family attended her virtual shower in Canaan hosted by her stepmother, Maureen.
This is how it worked — also a first, at least for me.
We were instructed to bring our gifts to the shower, unwrapped, so that everyone could see them. We also brought wrapping paper, ribbon and greeting cards.
At the shower, we called Jessie in Virginia, and we connected with her sister, Rachael, who lives in France, via Skype.
For those of you unfamiliar with Skype, it's when you chat with someone on the computer and you can see each other on the monitor as you talk. Jessie does not have the capacity to Skype, otherwise, we would have been able to see her also.
Maureen held the phone to the computer so the two sisters — Jessie and Rachael — could talk to each other as we 10 or so women listened, laughed and joined in the conversation.
We kept Rachael on Skype during most of the shower and she took us on a tour of her apartment by carrying her computer all around and pointing out the highlights, including her colorful European kitchen with a moveable island she made that has a special compartment for her freshly-made jams and jellies.
Then we passed the phone around and each of us spoke to Jessie individually and told her what we bought her for a gift. She was very excited.
After this, we sat down, wrapped our gifts and attached our cards securely to them.
When Jessie has the baby, Maureen and my brother, David, will drive to Virginia to visit her with the gifts in tow.
The shower was a success, in more ways than one. Maureen and David live in the country, in a very old, restored Cape Cod house that looks like it is out of a Martha Stewart magazine.
Their kitchen table was laid out with all sorts of delectable homemade goodies including blueberry custard and peach pies, goat cheese and dips, special wheat crackers, apple cider and red and white wine.
The ambiance, personalities and good conversation made up for any reticence I may have had about attending a virtual shower.
Everyone was light-hearted and we laughed a lot — particularly about the strange but awesome way we could pull off a baby shower in this new age without the guest of honor even being there.
I have a niece, Alexis, who lives in South Carolina and she and her two children Skype a lot with her husband who is a U.S. Army sergeant serving in Afghanistan.
While my tendency is to be cautious about this new technological world, I think what a blessing it must be for military families who spend long periods of time away from each other and whose only opportunity for visual contact is virtual.
I attended a wedding in Massachusetts last year in which the bride's brother and his family who live in China were unable to attend but witnessed the ceremony via Skype.
Beyond the social benefits of technology, great strides are being made in education as students and teachers are able to talk to and learn from each other through digital means.
This new age is a wild one, all right, but it allows us the chance to connect in ways we never dreamed possible.
And when that happens, virtual really ain't so bad.
Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.