... but don't worry, we managed to set up a weblink. Thank God for Skype, that's all I can say. Between Skype, and headsets, and microphones, and cameras, well, we all got a tour of the Brother's living room, and he got to watch us all making fools of ourselves in the elder sister's living room. Some moreso than others, it has to be said.
And I got to chat to my nephew, which was nice and all too rare, and I even saw the infamous Sally, who seemed not remotely phased by her transatlantic televisual appearance.
And having said goodbye, and settled down to dinner, I wound up calling the brother up again as developments overtook dessert. I wish I could remember the subsequent chat between himself and Sister the Elder. It was nearly as funny as her account of waking my niece.
Speaking of whom, there's something wonderfully now about this shot of my Dad in Chelmsford watching my brother in Missouri watching my sister and her partner and my niece all lepping about the place to the strains of 'Saturday Night Fever'.
We could have done with this many a time over the last twenty-five years, as there being so many of us, and all of us with very separate lives, we've managed only one full family Christmas together since 1981. That was 1997. And since then there've been a couple of additions to the clan. I think next year we'll definitely have to make it a tenth anniversary shindig.
The webcam is no substitute, truth be told, but it does help. Distance isn't anywhere near as rough as it used to be. I'm not saying it's easy, but it's surely not as hard. There's always a way.