One of the best parts of every Christmas is a chance to gather together as a family. We travel from great distances to be together with the people we love and people we haven’t seen in a long time. This helps us feel connected to each other and to the past in a magical way.
It’s natural that seeing family members evokes a strong emotion in us. A family evokes a sense of safety and well-being. It also ties us to a sense of existential safety.
By learning about our past we can learn about our future. Which of our family members went bald? Who had cancer? You laugh just like aunt Gertie! You have grandpa’s eyes.
Christmas evokes these strong feelings because it creates a space for stories.
Sometimes the stories just bubble Up naturally. Maybe there’s someone in the family who likes to tell the stories, but more often they just naturally arise as you go through the traditions of preparing the food, setting the table, or gathering with your favorite relatives.
But the stories don’t always start naturally, and leaving things to chance can mean that important things get missed. So this Christmas, make sure that you and your family tell the important stories so they get passed down to the next generation.
Start with prompts
Not every topic comes up naturally, so sometimes you need to give it a push. Here are some story starter ideas that you can use this Christmas. Of course you should add to these, as they are just ideas to get you started. it’s
- What is your first memory of gathering together as a family?
- Who is the oldest relative you can remember, and what do you remember?
- Which family members do you remember as a baby?
- Which Christmas was the most memorable for you, and why?
- Who in the family have you been told you resemble?
Put them where they are meant to be found
Of course having prompts isn’t enough. You can’t walk around everywhere and just ask people questions. This will make you the scariest host ever! Instead, write the prompts on cards or in picture frames and put them where they’re meant to be found. Introduce the idea to the family as they arrive, and then let the magic happen.
You can also put prompts at the dinner table, so they are readily available. Recruit a younger family member to assist in making sure the prompts get answered.
This way you can help create magic that passes from this Christmas on into the future.