Google Nest
Courtesy of Google Nest
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The holidays are a time of connection. All over the world, families are reuniting, bonding, and making new memories that will last a lifetime. But for hundreds of thousands of military families, celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule is impossible with service members stationed overseas. To paraphrase "I'll Be Home for Christmas," togetherness for military families during this time of the year may just be a dream.

Fortunately, in 2019, we can do a little bit better than dreams — thanks to tech. This year, the USO, the leading military support organization in America, and Google Nest are teaming up to ensure military families who can't reunite for the holidays can always stay connected. With the Google Nest Hub, a digital assistant that makes it easy to share photos from all over the world in real time — families can keep in touch even across great distances.

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Gretchen Kelly (left), Annie Reneau (right)
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When I was a kid, we had an entire living room shelf full of photo albums to pore through when we wanted to relive family memories. Now, several decades later, we flip through digital albums, instead. But the feelings that family photographs invoke are still the same. Every photo tells a story, and some photos hold tales and truths that are particularly dear to our hearts.

I was visiting with my friend Paula recently when she pulled up a sweet old photo of our sons together.

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U.S. Army
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For most people, the holidays are the busiest time of year. There are parties, trips to the store, school plays, parades, religious services, countless hours spent decorating and cleaning the house, and that long line at the mall to see Santa.

But in the end, the season is all about spending quality time making memories with the people we love. Unfortunately, we can't always see all of our loved ones over the holidays. But these days, it's a lot easier to stay connected with grandma and grandpa or our kids off at college.

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Courtesy of Quinn Hendershot
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Quinn Hendershot and her grandma have always been super close. She's lived nearby in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois for Hendershot's entire life. When she was 13 and her father suffered a brain stem stroke, her grandma moved in with her family to help take care of everyone. Unsurprisingly, Hendershot feels incredibly connected to her.

Even when they weren't living under the same roof, Hendershot got to visit with her grandma regularly while she was growing up, and that didn't change when she became a young woman and was preparing to go off to graduate school.

"When I spend time with her, we do a lot of cooking (she loves to feed me!), as well as running errands together since she can't drive," says Hendershot.

Last year, however, Hendershot's grandma built a house in Colombia and moved there semi-permanently. She was born in Colombia and lived there until she was 17, so she still has a lot of family there whom she wants to reconnect with and help look after.

"My grandma grew up on a farm, and has always wanted to live somewhere where she could keep farm animals like chickens and donkeys," explains Hendershot. "It's a lot cheaper and easier to build houses in Colombia, so when she saved up enough money to build a house there, she bought a plot of land in the country and started building."

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