Editorial: Let's use our time at home to deepen connections with family

If you're like many of us who have been working from home, teaching our kids, eating most meals together and generally trying to stay out of each other's hair, quality time with your family these days might resemble not arguing over what to watch on Netflix.

But there is more to life.

Remember the days a month or so ago when everyone was doing their own thing and you thought it would be so nice just to have everyone together for a family dinner once a week?

Before all of this, with our lives so frenzied, many of us have felt the connections slipping away, as if we simply don't know our family members well enough.

Don't let the opportunity of forced togetherness pass you by. Use it to re-establish those connections, really learn about what your kids, what your parents are up to, what they've lived through.

Who they are.

Three years ago, we wrote about a project at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie in which Holocaust survivors were interviewed in depth about their experiences in a very high-tech way. The result is an exhibit where visitors can interact with holograms of survivors with the aid of artificial intelligence.

It's a truly fascinating experience, one that will ensure that the curious will always have opportunities to learn in vivid detail what that horrid episode in history was all about.

Parents and grandparents have their own stories to tell. They may seem more pedestrian in comparison to what the museum has to offer, but to their children and grandchildren they can provide valuable insight about how their loved ones became the people they are. Those stories can tell us something about ourselves. And someday they will help us provide insight to those who come after us.

A family history is a lot more than a family tree. Imagine learning about your great-great grandfather not from census data but his own words.

In this time of togetherness, a good family activity would be having in-depth conversations about those who came before us to learn about what makes them tick. How many children know about their parents' first loves, first jobs, childhood friends? Or their struggles, their heartaches, the learning experiences that shaped their lives?

This pandemic reminds us that life is precious and ephemeral.

COVID-19 is the unkindest to the older among us. Talk to those in your life whose lessons in life can help you in your life and in those of your children. Do it now.

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