Thank you so much for stopping by our website!  Happy Holidays and thank you to Denise Brown at Caregiving.com for being our hostess with the mostest!

I just returned home to northern Idaho having spent 2 weeks in southern California where I shared Thanksgiving with my kids and then attended a conference for women entrepreneurs.  Therefore, I am late to the party.  It sounds like you’ve all been having a wonderful time without me.

I drove the 1300 miles to southern California by myself and I must say that the weather was WAY less than desirable.  I encountered snow, a literal white-out (I was following the lights of a semi-truck during this part and when the snow cleared, the truck was GONE!  I have no idea where it went) and then I out-ran a blizzard that was scheduled to hit Utah.

Just like caregiving, this trip was challenging, somewhat isolating, scary and a definite time of growth for me as I’ve not traveled such a distance alone before.  It was very much out of my comfort zone.  But I did it!  I’m sure that it will be a story that I share with my grandchildren one day.

Speaking of stories, I wanted to share with you the importance of collecting family stories, so that as you attend holiday parties and family gatherings, you also consider capturing some of them to pass on to future generations.

Collecting Family Stories
Thanksgiving is a time when family and friends get together to eat, chat, watch sports and generally relax.  It is the perfect time to share and gather family stories, especially if elders are present.  In our busy world, we often forget to stop to ask an elder about their past history, their favorite memories, favorite foods, etc.  Asking an elder about their past experiences helps them to feel loved and to feel that they are a contributing part of the festivities.
The stories of our lives and of those who came before us take on special importance because they reveal much about life in the past, and how we developed some of the characteristics that we currently possess.  Even if everyone tells different versions of the same event, we can piece them all  together into a clear picture . These tales are family heirlooms held in the heart, not the hand. They are a gift to each generation that preserves them by remembering them and passing them on. And now with technology such as easy to use video cameras (Think Flip video camera which is available at stores such as Target, Wallmart and Best Buy for about $130.00) and tape recorders, we can capture them much more easily.  If you don’t have either one of these, simply have someone transcribe the stories in a journal. (This would be a good task for one of the teens.)
And because these stories are from the past and would arise from long-term memory, those elders who have dementia are still able to participate.  About 3 months before my father passed away, we shot an hour video of him discussing various events from his past.  We learned of he and his friend being chased up a tree by a bear, a time when his family lost their truck in a bog and had to wait until spring in order to haul it back out, tales from the family farm and many other wonderful stories.
Here are some questions (taken from the workbook “Telling Your Own Stories by Donald Davis) to help spark conversations:

Interview questions about Places To Remember:

  • Can you describe the house in which you lived when you were a child?
  • Do you remember the room in which you slept as a child?
  • Can you describe the houses in your neighborhood?
  • Where was your favorite place to visit when you were a child?
  • Where did you go to school? What was in the classrooms?
  • Where did you go to worship?
  • Where did you go to shop for food or clothes?
  • Where did you go for fun and recreation?
  • Where did you go when you wanted to hide?
  • Did your family ever move?
  • Describe the house you lived in when you were first married.
  • What kind of utensils did you have in the kitchen?

Interview questions about People To Remember:

  • Who lived in your house with you as a child?
  • How many brothers or sisters lived there?
  • Can you describe your father or mother as you remember looking at them when you were small?
  • Who visited your house when you were young?
  • Any relatives remembered? Grandparents or Aunts and Uncles?
  • Who were your favorite cousins?
  • Who were your neighbors?
  • Did you have any favorite teachers?
  • Who was the best cook in the family?
  • Who was the smartest, richest, kindest, or most religious?
  • Did anyone in the family have some unusual characteristics?

Interview questions about Life Events:

When did the first family member come to America? Where did they come from? How did they get here? Are any family members still abroad?


How did you meet your spouse? How long did you know each other before you were married? Can you describe your wedding?


How did you earn a living when you were young? What was your first job?


What were your favorite holidays? Did you have special holiday customs or foods?


Did you ever go on a vacation? Where? Who went with you? What did you do for fun?


Can you describe the birth of your son or daughter? Where were you? Who was there? How did you choose his or her name?


Daily Life:
How did you travel from place to place? Did your family have a car? What were your favorite pastimes? How did your children behave? (editor’s note: this will be fun for granchildren who will hear about their parents when they were children.)
And here are a few of my own:
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
What was the best present you ever received?
If you could change something that happened in your life, what would it be?
What would you do with a million dollars?
What was your most prized possession?
If you could meet any one person in the world, who would it be?
If you could be any animal, what would it be and why?
How did the laundry get done?  Was water available? 
What kind of appliances were available?
Describe bath night.
You don’t need to go through all these questions at a single gathering.  These are just some ideas.  Certainly, there will be more than one response as the conversation gets going.  Try to capture as much as possible…..especially the laughter.


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