It’s hard to understate the power of the holidays to bring family members together. No matter how far you might be living, or how little you speak on a day-to-day or even weekly basis, chances are good you prioritize traveling to see loved ones or at least sending a card. Last year, AAA estimated that over 55 million people in the United States would be traveling at least once during the holiday season. That’s a lot of planes, trains, and automobiles.
By now, however, you know that the 2020 holiday season will look very different. Between recent spikes in coronavirus cases and the overall threat of gathering with people not in your immediate household or quarantine bubble, you’re likely preparing for a much smaller Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving dinner than you may be used to. Maybe you’re planning on setting a place-setting for your laptop, so you can digitally beam family members in to your table from their own tables, however many miles away they may be. If that’s you, Zoom wants to help.
The video conferencing company recently announced that it would freeze its 40-minute time limit for non-paying users for 30 hours, beginning on Nov. 26 at midnight, Eastern time. (If you’re not familiar, Zoom caps meetings with three or more people at 40 minutes; you can bypass this setting by investing in a monthly or yearly subscription.) Rather than jump between meeting rooms when your time is up, you can set your laptop down, make sure it’s plugged into a power source if you’re preparing for a marathon catch-up session, and enjoy.
Signing up for a multi-hour video session might seem more than a little exhausting after all of the Zooms you’ve done in the past few months. Experts recommend you power through the fatigue if you can, given that staying connected with loved ones in any way possible can help you feel less lonely. As online therapist Danielle Wayne told Apartment Therapy, “When we do video calls, we can see the other person’s facial expressions and body language, and all of this communicates to the overall message we receive.”
You can also take the pressure off your Thanksgiving Zooms by playing games, which might make the experience easier than holding a conversation for hours. Remember to pencil in time to call or FaceTime with family members that aren’t as technologically savvy, or don’t feel comfortable on a computer screen for whatever reason. And above all else, take time for you—you don’t have to accept every Zoom meeting you’re invited to if your schedule is already overflowing. (That’s what those holiday cards are for.)