Our transition to empty nesting began this holiday season. With our eldest graduated and working in Japan, we knew there would be an empty seat at our Thanksgiving table, one less urgent voice waking us up on Christmas morning.
Or so we thought. Cue the wonders of technology.
Tokyo time was 845p, but our clocks read 545a when our teenage son rushed into our bedroom, smartphone set on speaker as the loud voices of both of our children excitedly announced, "Merry Christmas! Wake up! We want to open presents!". They had been on the phone for a half hour already, biding their time to let mom and dad sleep in a little.
The night before, my husband had tested out the webcam as I made sure we could do a Google Hangout with our daughter. Laptop was set on the ottoman, webcam nestled in the entertainment center to get a broad view of the living room. Our son videochatted with our daughter as he walked down the hall to see what Santa had brought, with my husband at his usual station with our video camera to capture the surprised looks and sounds.
As we settled in to open gifts, our daughter's face and voice beamed through the laptop screen in real time. She had graciously waited all day to open the packages we mailed two weeks prior. There were the usual oohs and ahhs all around as our holiday presents were revealed.
The real treasures, of course, were sitting in living rooms six thousand five hundred miles apart, and the technology that connected us that day, captured for posterity in our holiday video files.