Over the past year, I have had two great experiences to "chat up the living" and I suggest that you make a point to chat up the living too!
Our Family Reunion
Last summer we had our family reunion (held every five years) and being an A-type, I came up with a few games for our reunion. I should mention that we are a petty competitive bunch and we will do anything for a prize so it seemed like a good idea to get family members to interact a bit more and have some fun.
Friday evening was devoted to getting your name tag and finding your team members for the Saturday games. We separated family groups and age groups (how I love RSVPs and Excel worksheets) so there was a family elder, and a person from each generation on each team and no one was on a team with someone from their immediate family. We used containers of treats and had people guess the amount (skittles, pretzels, m&ms, goldfish) or the length (twizzlers). People had fun guessing and even more fun winning - luckily the winners shared their haul with everyone. It helped to meet your teammates on Friday night because the games started bright and early on Saturday morning.
|Warming up with the puzzles & mazes|
|Working together on the Scavenger Hunt|
The 20 Questions game was so much fun because it was interesting to see what people knew or thought they knew and, more importantly, what they did not know. My cousins all went to my father (one of the family elders) to get him to answer questions - the only thing they didn't know was that my father was more than willing to (and did) lie because he wanted his team to win! (And they did!)
|Taking names and giving away prizes - what's not to love!|
Asking Questions & Letting Them Tell Their Stories
I have made a point of getting together with my parents on a regular basis and asking them questions. More importantly, I am trying my best to listen and let them tell their stories. It helps that I am recording our conversations on my smartphone and then listening and annotating the conversations soon after the meet-up. It helps to have some documents or photographs to share with them and nudge their memories. The journey we take during these short (30 minutes) conversations is amazing.
During one get together I showed each of them the 1940 US Census from their neighborhood. It was fun to nudge their memories of the neighbors (and then they wanted to look for extended relatives). My mother took a look at the farm community where her grandfather and aunts and uncles lived and had some great stories from her very early childhood. My father simply wanted to find his early childhood friends.
To help you get started, find a list of questions or areas you want to learn more about and then break those topics into manageable conversations. Whether you meet up in person, hangout via Google+, or get together via the telephone, chat family members up and get those recordings now. What would you give if you had recordings with the voices or images of family members who are no longer with you? Do it today, the chance might be lost to you tomorrow.
|Get Everyone Talking!|
image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net ID-100203880