Celebrating virtually

What is the purpose of a celebration? In the past, I’m sure many of us would have said something along the lines of “bringing people together” — with the understanding that we meant “in person.” Since the “in person” part is problematic this year, people have really had to think about the purpose question, and see what can still happen.

This weekend I attended two celebrations that, a year ago, I would have had a hard time imagining could happen virtually. The big one: my little brother’s wedding. He and his wife (!) left Brooklyn in April and have been renting a place in upstate New York. They decided they liked rural life, and bought a house up there. It turns out that when you take the in-person event-planning aspect out of a wedding, you can be quite speedy! They told us over Thanksgiving that they planned to get married and they had a Google Meet ceremony on Saturday.

While it was sad not to be all there in person together, there were a few upsides. For one, I could mute my children during the ceremony, an option that I would have loved to have had in some other circumstances. When my 5-year-old lost the ability to sit still a few minutes in, he could just…not sit still. They’ll likely have a big party in late 2021, so in essence they just separated the wedding into two parts: the ceremony itself and then the reception more along the timeline of a traditional year-long engagement.

I also attended my husband’s annual office holiday party. Last year I found a very festive little black maternity dress and the bump and I took Uber downtown for the 100-plus person event. I came home around 11 p.m. or so to send our sitter home. This year, they sent us a package with snacks and drinks, and we zoomed in for a very well facilitated event. We were done by 7 p.m. or so which, given my interrupted sleep these days — due to the happy but not-so-sleepy little boy contained in that bump — is probably fine!

What virtual celebrations have you attended recently?

In other news: My New Corner Office podcast episode this morning is about how to Throw a Good Virtual Party. I enjoyed pulling together some tips for this episode…but I’ve also made the decision to end The New Corner Office with 2020. We’ve had a good run (almost 200 episodes!) but I don’t think I can sustain the pace. I’m going to incorporate some more career content into Before Breakfast (my other every-weekday-morning short tip podcast) and probably run some more posts that could have been episodes here.

I’m also pondering doing more “reader case studies” here – I enjoy the financial ones over at The Frugalwoods and it’s definitely something I could do for time issues here.

13 thoughts on “Celebrating virtually

  1. My father-in-law died of Covid last month. He lives halfway across the country. Our extended family located in 3 time zones gathered on zoom for an informal memorial service complete with slide show and songs from one of the grandchildren. It would have been better to be in person but it was special to see 13 boxes of family members in the screen.

    1. @L – so sorry for your loss. Memorials are better in person, but as I’ve been thinking of this lately there have been some where I wish there had been a virtual option in the past. My grandmother died a few weeks after my fourth kid was born, so I couldn’t go to the funeral, but it would have been nice to be part of it. I imagine there will be a lot more hybrid options in the future — I attended a service virtually recently where some people were in the church (masked and seated far apart) and the rest of us were on Zoom.

  2. We lit Hanukkah candles virtually with extended family. Even in normal times, we don’t usually travel for Hanukkah because it tends not to fall at a convenient time . The virtual candle-lighting (real candles, virtual togetherness) was easy and added joy and a sense of occasion to our week; I could see doing it again in future years even when things are “normal”.

    1. @Erica – exactly – it’s possible to celebrate more minor occasions together that you wouldn’t travel for – I’m thinking things like non-milestone birthdays…

  3. That sounds like a wonderful wedding given the circumstances! I am so thankful to people like your brother and sister-in-law who are making sacrifices to help slow the spread of covid.

    I would enjoy reading time management case studies, and it would also be fun to hear podcast episodes like this. We all know that the guests’ day-in-the-life is the best part, and any hacks or suggestions would be useful!

  4. I enjoyed hearing back to back episodes of Before Breakfast and New Corner Office during my morning routine. The bite sized episodes were great for keeping the pace for getting myself ready. Looking forward to reading the time case studies.

    1. @Michelle – so glad you enjoyed them! Before Breakfast is still going strong. And there are going to be 200 episodes of NCO when I stop recording, so plenty to go back through if you didn’t hear them all when they published.

  5. I am having trouble getting excited at all for these virtual gatherings. I also attended my sister’s wedding virtually this summer and I almost feel like watching it live but not being there was more depressing than just seeing the pictures would have been. However, I am using the virtual option to attend some medical and political seminars that I would never have bothered to travel to previously. So that is a good thing.

  6. I’ll definitely miss the New Corner Office, which I listen to after Before Breakfast every morning. But of course I understand if it was a lot to keep up with given everything else that you do. Congrats on a great run!

  7. Laura thanks for all you do! I would LOVE to see case studies. You are a time management expert and I could see you filling posts for years to come with various questions/scenarios/case studies. It’s funny, Cal Newport recently reminded his listeners that Dave Ramsey has been giving the same financial advice for years (I forget how many-30?) but he’s able to fill 3 hours of radio content a day with essentially case studies. It’s fascinating how engaging it can be to see the advice applied to different scenarios. I love the idea.

    We recently had a Halloween party with my team at work – about 15 colleagues and their respective families- and it was so fun! The emcee had each person introduce themselves, then we played a Disney trivia game (via a third party website). It was great because we could see/hear our colleagues on Zoom muttering to themselves as they thought of the answer. The website gave us all the same questions at the same time and tallied the final score. We also had a raffle (we received raffle #s via email ahead of time for each family member) and there were 4 drawings throughout the party. Just $25 to DQ, Target, Amazon and Chili’s, nothing crazy. Everyone commented on what a fun time it was (even the kids)!

  8. I’d echo a few others here. I think case studies would be interesting. I could see money case studies would have an interesting spin from you, though time management makes more sense for your niche :).
    The podcast decision makes sense, though I’ll be happy to hear some New Corner Office episodes baked into Before Breakfast. Since going FT remote, I’ve had a harder time keeping up with podcasts, though my Tuesday walk is always reserved for BOBW.
    It’s been difficult to come up with engaging team meetings/virtual get togethers where the purpose is to build the team (rather than accomplish work). I did participate in one really great success; a scavenger hunt (“you have 60 seconds to return with the weirdest kitchen gadget you own, to be judged by your peers”) interspersed with trivia. As with a lot of things, though, it’s often best if people choose to be engaged and make the best of it.

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