Thanksgiving

When I was a child, Thanksgiving was all about the feast. My mother would have been preparing for several days, and was up early on Thursday to get the turkey in the oven. She made a number of dishes that were traditional, and often added a new one, which might or might not become a regular. We daughters (there were no sons) would do our assigned tasks and, when we lived in California, Daddy would pick roses for the table. We would sit down to eat about 1 p.m., and might be sitting there an hour later, having finished eating and were just talking. If we had any relatives with us, we might be sitting there for several hours, chatting and laughing over old stories. As the family expanded and various relatives married, sometimes the new family members did not understand why we’d sit in hard chairs at the table and talk. Wasn’t it time to get back to the game on TV? Some never quite got it. I wish I had had some of these questions to spark their interest.

You can use these questions any way you like. Ask everyone each of these questions or make a game of it, with each person selecting a question at random and record them (video, audio or transcription). You and your guests may not spend two more hours chatting after dinner like my family, but you may put off the football game just a bit longer and share stories as well as your meal.

Five questions for older relatives:
1. Describe the ways your family celebrated Thanksgiving when you were a child? How did your traditions change as you grew older?
2. Pick a school year. Describe a typical day, and describe an event that was un-typical.
3. Did your family celebrate Halloween when you were a child and teen? What did you do?
4. When did you first get your driver’s license? How difficult was it to get one? Describe your driving lessons.
5. Who was the oldest person in your family when you were a child? A grandparent or great-grandparent?

Five questions for younger relatives to get them thinking about their life story, and sharing it:
1. How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving? What are your three favorite parts of the celebration?
2. Describe your first day of school this year: What grade, school, and teacher? What did you wear? What did you eat for lunch? What was the biggest surprise of the day?
3. What did you do for Halloween this year? What were your best Halloween memories of your life?
4. Do you have your driver’s license or learner’s permit? Describe the process and any anecdotes.
5. Who is the youngest person in your family right now? Tell how you first met him or her?