As you gather with loved ones for the holidays – whether in person or virtually – think about preserving their memories and life lessons through oral histories. Here we’ve gathered some questions that can lead to meaningful conversations about family and values, along with tips to get you started.
The questions above can help inspire conversation even in an informal setting – but consider taking things a step further by preserving those memories via audio or video.
If your family member is willing, decide whether you’d like to conduct your interview one-on-one or in a group setting. Then, arrange a time and place (or schedule a virtual meeting) and select questions that will get your loved one talking.
Once you’ve chosen your questions and you’re in a quiet and comfortable location, begin your recording. Start by stating the date and the name of the person you’re interviewing. Then, ask a few lighthearted questions to break the ice.
If your interviewee isn’t exactly chatty, you might need some cues to get the conversation going. You can break out old family photo albums that might spark memories. Or make it a game: you can buy card decks with questions to ask family members and grandparents, or you can use an app like Conversation Starters.
Once you’ve captured the interview, ask whether you may share it with other members of your family such as children or grandchildren. You might even consider using StoryCorps, an app that allows you to upload your recording to their archive at the Library of Congress, which is full of interviews about the lives of everyday people.
With a little effort, you can turn the stories of the people in your life into treasured keepsakes – portable insight that can be passed along from generation to generation. “If we take the time to listen, we’ll find wisdom, wonder and poetry in the lives and stories of the people all around us,” says StoryCorps founder David Isay. “We all want to know our lives have mattered and we won’t ever be forgotten.”