A Wilderness of Mirrors

I heard this expression used to describe the world of spies. A more popular phrase might be fake news. Whatever term we use, it is hard to know what is genuine.

With my family gatherings being severely curtailed at this time of year because of covid-19, it focused importance on family get-togethers. Or was it all-important?

Nothing beats being physically in the presence of family, whatever the occasion, especially if all goes well.


Sometimes this just can’t happen. It might be because of illness, distance, interpersonal conflicts, overlapping familial obligations, or social distancing.

I spent some time this season reflecting on how I could replace the benefits I received from being with family. Physical presence can help bond me with family members. But even during the best of times, I have rarely had extended family around me. They live hundreds to mostly thousands of kilometres apart.

Since I started Movin’ On from full-time employment, I took unplanned steps to randomly build relationships with my extended family. I only saw it as part of a plan when I looked back to see what I had done.

I purchased my cell phone, I was able to call across the country at any time.

A trait of my family tree is that of being stingy, frugal, careful with money. So, avoiding the “wait-until-6 o’clock” mindset to get the lowest long-distance rate, I consciously called during the weekday. Oh, the rebel that I am!

But the call was still planned. Call content was kept for the broad overview topics. It was rarely about the minutia of life, such as a new recipe I tried.

So, I consciously started to increase the frequency of calls. With that change came sharing of the small details of life, much like talking over a daily coffee.  It took a while, but I made significant headway. I had fewer mirrors getting in the way of real connection. The news we exchange is real and exciting.

My brother has spent years recording our detailed family tree. This record is priceless and has created a sound foundation to build strong extended family ties. I started a Facebook page for any folks and their immediate family who are on our Family Tree. We now connect with family overseas.

With 20/20 hindsight, I’ve learned to take the core benefits of being physically together and culled what is possible through other ways. It isn’t as good, but it is way better than nothing at all.

During the closing days of this year, give a bit of a think about ways you can make a difference in strengthening your own family ties. Gather in a park while social distancing, regular family Zoom time. Write a letter about your hopes for family members, Then mail or email it to your family. Be creative. Identify something. It is more important to be in this game than getting it right every time.

Tell me about your plans. I’m curious about your thoughts. Please email me or leave your comment. I really do read every one.

If you enjoyed The Blog, please share it with others. Thanks.

Take care. Stay Safe. Wear a Mask.

My thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.

Glenn Walmsley




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