The Winter Holidays Offer Another Chance By Kim Winslow

I want you to think about Thanksgiving. Did you truly learn anything of value from a family member? Did anyone share a memory that brought light and understanding?

Sometimes, I think that we feel as if we know our mothers, fathers, siblings, and children so well that we no longer need to ask them questions, and if we do, our inquiries too often center on the weather, sports, tv shows, etc.

In his interview for the November issue of The Oprah Magazine, Tony winner Leslie Odom, Jr., said, “When I was a kid, Christmas was my number one holiday, and Thanksgiving was my least favorite; it involved family and was never-ending. Now it’s flipped! I sidle up to the seniors in the room and soak up the stories.”

Sharing stories is one of the best ways to build traditions and add meaning to the holidays, but sometimes we focus too much on tasks such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning. The good news, is that with just a few simple shifts, we can also “soak up the stories.”

The November issue of Real Simple contained a great article titled 5 Ways to Pull Great Stories Out of Your Family. I especially love the subtitle: Break Through The Small Talk and Connect With Loved Ones On a Deeper Level This Holiday Season. Suggestion 4 in the article was to “Toss out some prompts.” In the article by Hannah Chenoweth, she suggests, “Going around the table to answer a prompt can pull people out of their shells and prevent one person from dominating the conversation.”

How do you get the good stories? Chenoweth writes, “Opening up interesting conversation is simpler than people think: just listen! Talking to an active listener is so powerful, especially when they ask good questions.”

This holiday season, move past the small talk; instead, ask great questions, and listen to the stories. If coming up with questions is difficult, then consider using a prompt book such as Dr. Dar’s Freewriting Prompts.

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