Don’t want to talk politics around Christmas dinner? Why not get to know your family and friends a little better instead? As loved ones gather together at this time of year, we’re offering a couple of suggestions centering around family history and real, honest get-to-know-you questions.

We recommend having a physical notebook or memo app handy to record any funny quotes or important details.

Stories of Christmases Long, Long Ago

For many, Christmas invites opportunities to reflect on family past and present. What Christmas stories can you gather from your family?

Traditions New and Old

Many holiday observations come from generations-old traditions. As children grow and form their own families and social circles, they develop their own ways of honoring the season. What traditions have stayed in your family for generations? What new ones could your family still incorporate? Find the special meanings behind all of the traditions, new and old. You might find your family still has something to teach you.

Historical details

Now is the time to get them! Comparisons to modern traditions can be a great way to jog the memory and invite discussion. If you hear one of these stories starting, press for details. You might try asking about the types of food they made, the model of car they drove to pick up a Christmas tree, and so on. You might even hear about family members–like a great-grandma–who have passed on. Take the opportunity to hear their stories, too.

Make Modern Memories

Christmas isn’t only about remembering. It’s often about making new memories and new traditions as much as it is about honoring old ones.

Conversation Starters and Topics

  • Gatherings usually come with delicious food! Ask about the recipes used. How did they find that recipe? Have they made improvements, or is it an heirloom recipe–unchanged for years?  You’re among family; there are no “secret recipes” here!
  • What does your last name mean to your family? Discuss its meaning, if anyone knows it. Even beyond the historical meaning, maybe your name has special significance due to a family member’s actions.
  • Have you gotten a DNA test such as the one offered by Ancestry? Share your results! Maybe they surprised you; they might surprise your family, too! It might even inspire them to learn more about their own DNA and ancestors.
  • With your family all around you, now is the time to plan vacations and other family gatherings. Schedules might not be cemented yet for the next year, making this an ideal time to invite everyone to a reunion or getaway.
  • Find out how your family members have celebrated the season so far. Have they tried something new to feel the spirit of the season? Whether it’s from churchgoing worship or kind deeds, ask them to share those details. You might find yourself inspired!

However you celebrate this season, we at MyCanvas wish you Happy Holidays and many happy memories with those close to you.