This is the season of gratitude, getting together with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving and enjoy the company of those we love. On Thursday, as you sit around the table, carving the bird and passing the cranberry sauce, what will the conversation sound like? Will the talk center on the many dishes covering the table or the size of the bird? Will it be a time of catching up on the latest news? Will there be long periods of silence? Will football be the topic of conversation?
Any and all of those things are fine, but I’d like to propose something a bit different at this Thanksgiving’s dinner table. Why don’t you use this time to get to know the individuals seated next to you in a different way? I suggest you pose a question and then go around the table and ask everyone to give his/her response.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. That will go over like the proverbial lead balloon. Everyone will grumble and say what a stupid idea this is. They won’t want to do it. Yes, you may receive any or all of those responses, but try it anyway. Be prepared to go first. Maybe even enlist the support of one or two others to get the conversation going by sharing their stories. Before you know it, you may be hearing memories you never heard before. Everyone at the table may be laughing as they tell tall tales from long ago. I promise you, every time I’ve done this, no one wanted to do it at first, but at the end, everyone had a lot of fun.
It is story that connects us to one another, and when we share our stories, we give a piece of ourselves to those we love. Think about it. What better time than Thanksgiving is there to feel connected to the ones we care about?
Here are a few guidelines:
- Choose topics that are neutral, not loaded with sentiment, especially negative feelings.
- Select general topics that apply to most people, so everyone can participate, even the kids.
- Make sure the topics are open-ended and can’t be answered with yes or no.
- Remember that what each person says is his/her remembrance. Don’t correct them.
- Know that you may have to ask a few additional questions to those who don’t naturally give many details.
If you’re stumped for a few topics, try these:
- Tell us about the first pet you remember. Do you have a story about this pet?
- What was your favorite food as a child? What did this food taste like? Who fixed it? When did you have it? Was it an everyday item or one prepared only at special times of the year?
- What was a food you hated as a child? Were you forced to eat it? Did you ever try to get out of eating it? How?
- Who was your best friend in school? What did you like about this person? What did you do with this person that was fun? What’s one memory with this person you’ll always remember?
- How did you get to school each day when you were young? Did you do anything special on these trips to school—sit with a certain friend on the bus, ride your bike, buy a treat on the way home, etc.?
That’s your mission should you choose to accept it, and I hope you do. Come back to this site and let me know how it goes. Whether it flies or bombs, I’d love to hear about your experiences.