The “holiday season” is upon us, like it or not. And, like a big hill on a roller coaster, we are about to slide into Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, (and maybe a birthday in between). With these celebrations comes family time. So, it makes sense that November is National Stories Month! We’ve got a challenge for you, one that will deepen your connections and bring joy to every generation at your family table this holiday season. Here are our best ideas for National Stories Month activities!
Families are the building blocks of society. Memories and traditions are the building blocks of family togetherness. Holidays are the building blocks of memories and traditions! So, in honor of National Stories Month, we want to challenge you to dive deeply into your family history and connect with those around you, gathering memories along the way. And, with these memories, you can build deeper connections and a legacy that lasts much longer than your holiday meal. Connections can be hard to make in a fast-paced world, so now is the time to make time to celebrate National Family Stories Month with the following ideas meant to bring you closer together and to give you a better understanding of what makes those around you “family.”
- Since most holidays involve feasting, why not create a family cookbook? One of the best ways to bond as a family is to make a mess while cooking a delightful dinner or luscious lunch? Have you heard about Aunt Nina’s famous pumpkin pie? Surely Grandpa Amos will share his secret gravy ingredients. Keep file cards or create a cookbook to pass on to future hungry generations.
- Talk about your holiday traditions. Discuss things that your family does (or, perhaps, used to do) at gatherings. Do you light candles or set up statuettes or pictures at holiday time? Maybe your family says prayers or attends ceremonies at special times. Do the fancy plates and utensils come out of their antique box for big meals? Take time to explain why your family does what they does. Take photos or have the children draw pictures and place them in a scrapbook. Then record the tradition as you experience it or soon after!
- Put technology aside for a day and teach your children a new tradition or two. No friends, no relatives, no interruptions — just you and your children playing games, crafting crafts, telling stories; all that old-fashioned “when I was your age” stuff!
- Create a book about each child. This will include the silly things they did when they were babies and toddlers. “When you were a toddler, you grabbed Scruffy’s tail and he dragged you around the kitchen.” Stories about the adoption experience can connect adoptees to family history. “When we saw you, we loved you so much that we had to take you home!”
- Have your child tell their own story. This is especially helpful for adoptees and blended families. Be sensitive and let them tell only what they feel comfortable with. They can draw pictures, act out a play, or create a collage that tells their story. This could be very entertaining!
- Tell a story about when you were your child’s age. Though it may seem like ancient history, kids love to hear about their parents’ and ancestors’ lives. Find some old pictures and yearbooks and show them that funny haircut and those outrageous clothes! Was Dad really voted “Most likely to be a famous celebrity?” These memories can spark some fun questions!
- If Grandma and Grandpa, or some old friends, are around, interview them and record their history. You’ll find that the older generation has much to say and wisdom to impart. The parents may not have been so different from their children!
- Listen to your favorite music and write down the song names. Recall when, where, and how you interacted with the songs. If you are still nimble enough, bust out the dancing shoes!
- Volunteer to help those who don’t enjoy the freedom and bounty you do. Visit a nursing home or soup kitchen and pass out your smiles along with food. Play games with them and make new friends! Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks, and you will be giving the needy (and your children as they learn to share!) something to be thankful for!
Oh, the stories you can tell during National Family Stories Month, and the memories you can make by being creative! One last tip: There are organizations, like LifeStoriesAlive.com, that will record interviews and compile pictures and mementos to make living albums for future generations to enjoy!
What story suggestions would you like to share with the Bridgeway family?