Ask Them If You Can
As we count down to Christmas and the year-end festive season, many of us will get a chance to reunite and spend time with our loved ones.
It’s also a time when we tend to reflect on the year and set goals for the coming one. Among the most common resolutions people make is “to spend more time with family.”
But when it comes to time with loved ones, it’s not just about the quantity of time spent together – but the quality of time. And meaningful conversations have a big part to play in that.
Most families have patterns they fall into at every gathering. Here’s a peek into what it’s like in mine: Help Mum out with food prep in the kitchen, set the table, thank Mum for cooking (too many dishes), share recent life updates, tease each other, moan about how we ate too much (again), clear the table, hang around the TV and chit-chat in the living room.
Maybe that sounds familiar. And if it does, then such routines don’t leave much room for conversations that go a little deeper.
That’s why I believe in taking time to ask intentional questions.
As a curious person, asking questions is something I naturally do. But asking good questions is a skill I honed through journalism. By “good”, I mean thoughtful questions that lead to insightful answers.
How well do we know our parents as people, beyond being “Dad” and “Mum”? Do we know much about our grandparents’ past? What life lessons can we learn from family history?
This year marks the third Christmas without my beloved dad on earth with us. One of the best gifts he left for me was the opportunity to interview him. Aside from getting to know my father in a deeper way, having his answers on record also serves as a gift to the rest of my family. Not to mention, future generations who can get a sense of who their great (-great-great-)-grandfather was.
Prior to speaking with my dad, I listed down all the questions I had for him. They came up to a grand total of over 60 questions (he lived quite a fascinating life, to say the least) – of which I ended up asking about a third.
If the idea of getting to know your folks better appeals to you, make an effort to ask them good questions. You may choose to do this as a series of questions “interview style”, or by inserting a question or two casually over dinner with the family.
Essentially: Ask them if you can, when you can, and while you can.
Here are my sample questions to get you started.
Here’s to quality time and making more memories with our loved ones.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and I’ll share what I know.
And if you’d like a professional video interview or written story about your loved one, reach out via my website's contact form or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. All family information will be kept confidential.