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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
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Families Across the Country

In today’s global economy and increasing mobility, families are no longer living across town from each other. They are across the country or even on the other side of the globe. Jobs today are very mobile. I will never forget when some thirty years ago a friend, who was an executive at IBM, told me, “IBM does not stand for International Business Machines. It stands for I’ve been moved.”

Moving up in a company often means a family move. And this is not the only reason for families becoming more scattered across the country. College graduates who are looking for jobs will often move away. Meeting a future bride or husband also often causes a move.

Over last summer, I could not reflect on how difficult it is to connect – particularly all at the same time. With my family scattered from New England to Florida, it has been almost impossible for everyone to be together – even on holidays like Christmas or Thanksgiving. Fortunately, we have the Internet connection and the telephone to keep us up-to-date with our families. But, none of that is really as nice as being together over a dinner table or around a BBQ cookout.

Next, I want to cover some interesting examples as how families have worked out solutions.

One of my friends plans a family event more than a year in advance. Once a date is agreed to by all family members, he then books the flight for the entire group; sets up the town; and picks out the hotel for all to meet in the location selected. And he picks up the entire bill.

Another friend brings everyone together on a cruise ship. The dates are selected around one year in advance with, again, my friend picking up the expenses. The cruise ship keeps everyone together in a wonderful atmosphere.

Finally, let me tell you about one other approach. This friend has his three children and the families “vote” on where they want to visit. When the votes are counted, they all meet at the designated location and enjoy destination events. This year, for example, they voted to go to Baltimore Harbor and enjoy the Aquarium and surrounding attractions. Needless to say, my friend picked up the tab for all to attend.

If you think about it, there is a significant challenge in getting families together. Remember that a married couple has to deal with two sets of families, something which makes the gathering much more difficult to achieve. The only way you can make it happen is to keep trying. When you finally make it happen, you will certainly see a happy and connected family.

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