It’s a classic holiday picture: A large family sits at a well-set table. Grandma presents a roasted turkey, while Grandpa looks on fondly. And everyone has their smartphones placed carefully next to their plates.
OK, the classic picture might have changed some. But what it represents — spending time and sharing what we have with loved ones — stands the test of time.
Today’s version of that picture might indeed look more like this: A turkey perfected in a pressure cooker. Veggies cooked via sous vide. A smart speaker providing music. We still share what we have with those we love … just in a more modern, technological kind of way.
But, it’s also easy for technology to eclipse family time, like other bad manners. (We all know the classics: Chewing with your mouth open. Talking with your mouth full. Setting your elbows on the table.) Don’t be like your rude Uncle Mel (the one with the bad jokes). Mind your manners and enjoy your meal.
Keep these three things in mind at the dinner table:
- Cellphones don’t serve a purpose like an eating utensil and aren’t needed at the dining table. And, they tend to be dirty (ew!). So turn off the phone and be in the moment. Practice sending a loved one a real-life emoji: Smile at them!
- Gaming devices paired with headsets is a double faux pas. Putting on headsets might tune out the sound of the game but it doesn’t make you invisible. Nor does it give you a free pass from social courtesies. Put the devices away and interact with your loved ones. Make your interaction a real-life game and see how many points you can score just by talking to Grandma.
- We love to preserve moments with photos and videos. However, use cameras moderately. Enjoy the time with family and friends in the present. You can capture that one shot before you all sit down to feast. After the meal is over and you are all relaxing, you can share it out on social media adding your own caption or social media filter.
After the meal
Keep the healthy interaction going! Instead of each family member retreating to a corner with a device, put technology to work for everyone.
- Project home movies or a slide show of still pictures onto the TV (hey, who doesn’t love home movies, right?).
- Download a game app everyone can play.
- Put on a movie everyone has seen and loves. That way you can talk and laugh during all your favorite parts.
- Play “Name that Song” using a music app and/or voice assistant.
- Start a group project using the internet, like researching your family tree or tracking down memories of holidays past.
- Stage some fun (or awkward) family photos. (We have some tips here.)
- Go outside and make a video.
- Play “Pretend We Just Lost Service” and see what happens!
These holiday gatherings are a gift. Mind your manners, and enjoy how technology can make and preserve the memories.