5 Fun Conversation-Starters for Grandkids to Use This Christmas

granddaughter hugging her grandfather at christmas, old fashioned traditions

The holiday season is traditionally a time when families come together to celebrate and spend quality time with each other. Although the pandemic has necessitated a change in plans for many families this holiday season, it can still be a time to connect with family, whether that be in person or virtually, or even via snail mail.

The pandemic has meant that many of us haven’t been able to visit with family members, and particularly elderly family members such as grandparents.

This has caused many of us to think more deeply about the importance of family, and the holiday season is a great time of year to live out the value of family in your life.

To that end, you may find the following questions helpful conversation starters, especially when talking with grandparents.

So grab a cup of hot cocoa or eggnog and some comfy chairs, or sit down with some stationery and get ready to hear some incredible stories. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised to find that your grandmother or grandfather has had some amazing life experiences that they are more than willing to share with you if you take the time to ask.

I often find that it’s easy to forget that our parents, grandparents, and other family members have their own unique life stories, much of which took place before we knew them. It’s both fun and enlightening to discover a whole new side to their lives, and often to receive some wisdom in the process.

The following are a few questions to help you kickstart some great conversations with grandpa or grandma this holiday season.

1. What Is a Childhood Memory That Still Brings You Joy?

How much do you know about your grandparents as kids? Most of us likely don’t know a lot so it can be fascinating to learn about who they were back then.

It’s also a great way to get a glimpse of how the world has changed. All of this can spark greater understanding and empathy and help you to strengthen your relationship with your grandmother or grandfather.

Plus, being reminded that your grandparent experienced the joys of childhood just like you is a wonderful reminder that you have a shared human experience.

2. What Family Traditions Are Important to You and Why?

What are some family traditions your family has? These traditions are likely especially prevalent during the holidays.

Did you ever stop to consider why your family practices them and why they are valued? Sometimes these traditions may have started with your family and other times they may go back generations.

One family tradition my family practiced every Christmas due to our Polish heritage was to share the oplatek Christmas wafers. This tradition is initiated by the family patriarch and involves breaking off a small piece of a Christmas wafer to share with each family member while they do the same for you. While you do this, both people wish the other a Merry Christmas or give some other warm greeting.

What traditions does your family partake in every Christmas and why does your grandmother or grandfather find them meaningful?

3. Can You Tell Me the Story of Your Marriage Proposal?

How did your grandparents meet and how did one ask the other to marry?

Whether simple or dramatic, courtship and proposal stories are so much fun to hear, and generally people love telling them. Did your grandfather surprise your grandmother with a ring or did she end up asking him the question?

Who knows--perhaps you can even glean some inspiration for your own proposal if it hasn’t happened yet, or perhaps you will be able to see similarities between your relationship and that of your grandparents. This can be an even better question to ask both grandparents at the same time if possible.

4. Did You Talk about Having a Family Before You Had Kids?

Family planning and family dynamics have changed quite a bit since our grandparents’ generation, so this question can open up a really interesting discussion.

Did your grandparents always want to have children and were they planned, or did babies come along before they knew it? How did the pregnancy(ies) go? Did they find out if it was a boy or a girl--was that even possible back then? How did they prepare for their growing family?

So many interesting questions can come from asking them how their family got started, and chances are you will glean some wisdom you can apply to your own family.

5. What Is Your Favorite Memory of Me?

Your grandmother or grandfather has (in most cases) known you since before you were born and your parents announced they were pregnant.

How did your parents tell them the exciting news? How did they first meet you--in the hospital, at home, or somewhere else? Did they have to travel to see you?

This question can also lead into how much you have changed or not changed. What characteristics have you always possessed and what strengths have you gained as you’ve grown into adulthood? A grandparent’s perspective on these topics can be fascinating as well as extremely insightful and applicable.

Will you be seeing your grandparents in person this year? If so, I strongly encourage you to use one or more of these questions to jumpstart a deeper conversation.

You will likely learn something valuable and possibly very precious about your family and yourself in the process. Grandparents are a blessing and they are not in our lives forever.

This holiday season is an ideal time to spend some quality time with grandpa or grandma and to give them the opportunity to pass on some of their memories and wisdom. And if they’re okay with it, you may even want to record your conversation for posterity, or at least take some notes.

Also, if you feel that the task of approaching your grandparent to ask one of these questions feels daunting, I suggest starting with a letter.

Oftentimes, those of our grandparents’ generation enjoy writing letters quite a bit already and are adept at expressing themselves through the written word. These letters will also serve as precious remembrances of your relationship in the future!

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

Veronica Neffinger wrote her first poem at age seven and went on to study English in college, focusing on 18th century literature. When she is not listening to baseball games, enjoying the outdoors, or reading, she can be found mostly in Richmond, VA writing primarily about nature, nostalgia, faith, family, and Jane Austen.




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