Holiday time usually means extended family time. If you are getting together with family this year, why not take advantage of that opportunity to capture some priceless memories? Here are some ideas:
Grab any recording device (cell phone, digital recorder, pen and paper), use the following questions (or your own) to explore family stories. (Substitute other celebrations, such as Hanukkah, as needed.)
- How did you decorate your home as a child?
- Who usually celebrated the holiday with you?
- What holiday-related activities did you do at school?
- How did your family honor the holiday?
- What gifts did you receive? And which was your favorite?
- What was the weather usually like?
- How was your town decorated?
- What was your favorite holiday song as a child?
- What is your favorite holiday song today?
Christmas Story Game
First, select an honoree (preferably one of your elderly relatives) and have everyone guess how the honoree would fill in the blanks in the story below. (If your honoree did not celebrate Christmas as a child, substitute another celebration for this game.)
Print the story blanks and give one to each player and to the honoree. Players can either fill out the form with their guesses as to how they think the honoree will complete the form, or players can just have fun with their guesses. The honoree fills out the form truthfully.
Now, grab that recording device and ask each player to read their story. Then ask the honoree to read the real story.
Give awards for the most correct answers as well as the funniest answers. Then, ask the honoree to expand on their memories by asking additional questions related to their answers.
A few examples of additional expanding questions are provided below the story blanks.
My Christmas Story
One of my favorite Christmases occurred when I was ________ years old. The thing that made that Christmas most special was ____________________. My family liked to _____________________ at Christmastime. I thought this family ritual was ______________, and I ____________________. We decorated with _______________________________. My favorite holiday song was ___________________________. That Christmas I played with my friend/relative _____________, who lived _______________. We played _________________________ (where and when) ___________________. I received a gift from _________________. My gift was a _________________. It was special because _________________. I also remember we ate ________________. The weather was ________________, and when I was outside I could smell ______________________ and see _____________________.
Help to paint the scene for everyone by asking the honoree for more details about sights, sounds, smells, emotions, etc. Have fun with questions like these and add to them to explore your honoree’s world even further. Hopefully, some additional stories will surface as they take their trip down memory lane.
Example: - If the honoree notes that they remember smelling fireplace smoke when they were outside, ask questions like:
- How many chimneys could you see if you walked out your front door?
- How close were the other homes to yours?
- Where did everyone get their firewood?
- How old were you when you built your first fire?
- How far away was the nearest fire station?
- Who else lived on your street/road?
- Take us on a walk down your street.
- What do you remember seeing, hearing, smelling on an average day?
Above all, enjoy your family and friends
this holiday season and make new memories for everyone present!