In the past several years, my family has developed a method of staying in touch. We call it the checking-in list. It started with me, my mom, my son, and my brother. When Mom and I would exchange email, we'd copy the boys on it. They didn't get it. Why would they want to read someone else's email messages?
So we dropped them and added my sisters. Each person's message went to all the others. Other people were gradually added, my mom's sisters - my aunts - and eventually their children. At some point, cousins of my mom and her sisters were added.
Now, most of what we report is mundane chit chat, but we stay well connected. And today, when people don't stay where they were born and a family can be spread all across the globe, staying connected is a pleasure.
Some people don't write very often. I'm one of those. I don't find much of my life interesting enough to report. Some people never write the group, or forward a joke a couple of times a year. One of my aunts writes a long message several times a week detailing her quilting, her goals, her housekeeping, her shopping, her clubs, and her church work. She does ten times more than I do in a week.
My other aunt writes a hurried message about once a week, but her life is more interesting than email, so she keeps it short. She's the sassy widow of the group. She lives right next door to my mother now, and that cuts down the number of check-ins they make.
Mom likes to forward religious pep-talks, military support, Maxine punchlines, chain letters, sisterhood messages, and rumors of computer viruses. My cousin reports on her son. Another reports on her dog and her job and her training. One of my sisters wanted to be taken off the list, and the other deletes without reading.
We exchange photos and recipes and advice. We keep track. It's a nice tradition.