Getting together with family is one of the best parts of the holiday season. It’s a rare opportunity to spend some quality time with distant relatives or even close ones that don’t live nearby. It’s also a chance to hear some interesting stories from grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents and cousins… some of which might make for great blog posts so others can hear their tales of yesteryear.

To get the conversation started and spark some interesting recollections, here are X questions to ask your elders during the holiday season:

  • Ask them about their childhood. Just like our kids will never understand how we grew up without WiFi, our predecessors lived in a very different world. Ask them what it was like, what they did for fun, what they ate, how they spent their time.
  • Request favorite stories. Ask them about the most fun they had or a family vacation. Get them to share a time they got in trouble or something they’re really proud of.
  • Inquire about THEIR grandparents. Dial back the time machine even further to see what nuggets you can unearth about your ancestors. You might find out a little more about what it was like in the “old country” or how things were in the 1800s.
  • Gather up lessons. Wisdom is earned, but it can also be passed down. Ask them what’s something they had to learn the hard way or things they wish they’d done differently. Regrets… they’ve probably had a few.
  • Pop culture quiz. What were people into when they were young? What were their favorite songs, books and movies. Who were the celebrities they looked up to and why?
  • What do they miss most? Times have changed quite a bit in their lifetime. While some things might have improved, there’s probably a few things they wish they could go back to. Ask them what things they’re like to still do or see but can’t.

Most importantly, once the conversation starts flowing, let it wander where it will. Don’t try and force anything… the best stories come organically once the floodgates open up.