Thoughtful Questions to Ask Family Over the Holidays

27 Thoughtful Questions To Ask Over the Holidays

'Tis the Season for family gatherings.

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In "Want to Seem More Likable? Try This," New York Times writer Tim Herrera reminds readers that we are often our own worst critic and we tend to think that people like us less than they actually do. He says that if you want to seem more likable and like a great conversationalist the key is asking questions. Asking questions allows you to be more interesting to your conversation partners by showing your interest in them. The goal is to ask questions, especially what and why questions, to lead people to reveal about themselves.

So if you want to avoid just chit chatting but don't want to delve into potentially controversial topics, I recommend using some of these questions to provoke thoughtful conversation with your family members this holiday season.

1. What’s your favorite holiday and why is it your favorite?

2. What holiday traditions did you have when you were a kid?

3. Where is our family originally from? What ethnic traditions do you remember being part of the holidays?

4. What’s your favorite family tradition?

5. What’s your favorite holiday memory?

6. What’s your earliest holiday memory? Why do you think it sticks out to you?

7. What’s your favorite memory of a family gathering?

8. What’s one of your happiest memories?

9. What are your favorite stories about [insert family member]?

10. What were some of the most important things to your family?

11. What was a typical family dinner like for you growing up?

12. What’s your favorite holiday dish?

13. What is/was the best thing that your grandparents ever cooked? What about your parents?

14. Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?

15. Are there any special heirlooms or other memorabilia passed down in our family? What’s the story behind them?

16. What’s your favorite gift that you have ever received?

17. What’s the favorite gift that you have ever given?

18. What’s your favorite thing about being a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle?

19. What’s the hardest part about being a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle?

20. What do you think is the most important life skill or value your parents taught you?

21. If you could thank a person (living or dead) for their influence on your life, who would you thank?

22. What family member or friend do you wish was with us today?

23. What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned this year?

24.What random acts of kindness have you received or given this year?

25. What is an opportunity you had that you are grateful for this year?

26. What is one way you’ve used your talents to serve others this past year?

27. What do you consider to be one of your greatest accomplishments this year and why?

28. What are you thankful for?

(This last one may be expected, but it's a classic and can lead to a meaningful conversation if you and your conversation partner(s) are willing to thoroughly discuss it.)

This list is by no means comprehensive, and I challenge you to adapt these questions and to create your own. Ask follow-up questions to clarify and go deeper on a topic. Playing favorites or asking about what is someone's favorite or least favorite is a great way to learn more about them and to even spark some friendly competition with the rest of the fam arguing in favor of or against those answers. The secret is curiosity: What do you want to know about or even more about your family members? Keeping this in mind will help you to learn more about your family and to have more meaningful conversations with them this holiday season.

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10 Abnormally Normal Things About College

Some stuff just doesn't fly in the real world.
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College is a weird, weird place. For whatever reason, the young adults who are supposed to be cultivating their minds with all of the worldly knowledge available to them, seem to get away with quite a bit using the justification "it's college." Even the best students live abnormally while on the alien planet that is a university. So, while to us college students it may just seem like another day, here are ten things that are only normal in college.

1. Straight up theft.

In the future, if I walk into my forty-something-year-old neighbor's home and see a collection of stolen signs, stuff from the local restaurant, and property from the construction site down the road, I would definitely be concerned about the character of my neighbor. However, in college, people proudly display campus signs, traffic cones, or dining hall napkin dispensers that they have impressively commandeered - it's a cheap decoration and a great conversation starter.

2. All-nighters.

Maybe with the exception of parents of little babies, very few people willingly stay up for close to 24 hours on end. In the real world, if a friend came to you and said that they literally did not sleep the previous night, it's completely logical to be worried. On the other hand, when a friend in college says that he was up all night you laugh a little, give him an understanding pat on the back, and walk with him to the coffee line.

3. Atrocious eating habits.

Sometimes you don't have time to eat. Sometimes you order pizza at 2 in the morning. Sometimes you eat three dinners. Sometimes you diet. All I can say, is thank goodness that our metabolisms are decently high at this age.

4. Breaking and entering.

In high school, you hopefully knew everyone who entered your home. After college, hopefully, that's still the case. However, when you live in the middle of thousands of bored college students, people knock at your door, walk into parties, cut through your yard, and stop by without invitation or hesitation. It keeps life fun, but still not normal.

5. Calling mom when stuff goes down.

I really doubt a time will ever come that I don't need to call my mom for guidance on how to do something. But, hopefully the frequency of those calls with go down a little bit post-graduation. Maybe after four years of doing it on my own, I'll know how to fill out government forms, cook real dinners, and get stains out. But for now, I'm going to keep calling while I still can without seeming totally pathetic.

6. Being intoxicated at weird times.

Drunk at noon on a Friday is the quintessence of an alcoholic at any time - unless it's college. Not that this is necessarily a good thing, and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but there aren't many other places where people would instantly assume someone is intoxicated if they're acting even a little weird. I've even seen people drink in the library....

7. The messed up dating scene.



There are people who meet the love of their life at college and live happily ever after. They are people who meet the supposed love of their life at college and never talk to them again after Sunday. There are people who use Tinder. Hormones are high, freedom is bountiful, and football players are cute - what else needs to be said?

8. A warped sense of time.

The career I'm pursuing will require me to be at work by 7 am, five days a week. I am fully aware of this. Now, will I enroll in an 8 am next semester? Absolutely not - I'm not a demon. In college, nights often start at 10 p.m., dinners are eaten at 4, and mornings can begin anywhere from 8 to 2. We don't get that whole 9-5 idea.

9. Costumes... for no apparent reason.

High schoolers have a dress code. Adults have dignity. College students have fun. Here, people will wear a corn costume to get on ESPN, a fanny pack to get into a fraternity, or a tutu to match a theme party. Is it actually a weird thing, though? No one even blinks an eye.

10. Insanely close friends.

Name another point in your life when you live with your friends, study with your friends, drive with your friends, eat with your friends, go out with your friends, and even grocery shop with your friends. I'll wait. At college, it's easy for friends to seem like family because you're with them constantly. Love it or hate it, it's weird about college.

So, enjoy this weirdness while you can - it won't last forever!


ALSO SEE:

Uncensored Roommate Confessions!

Cover Image Credit: Matthew Kupfer

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The Top 3 Lifestyle Changes I Made In College

The mistakes I corrected which stood between me and satisfaction.

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2019 has been a year of unparalleled growth for me. In 2018 I could have said the same. I spent extended periods of time analyzing the factors of my life which left me, in some ways, feeling unfulfilled. Here are the top 3 lifestyle changes that I made in college which left me feeling happier than ever.

1. Cut out the toxic people. 

A house is worthless without a solid foundation. The people which you call your friends are largely the foundation for your confidence and social life. Sometimes, we recognize that these people are overall anchors on our psyche; condescending narcissists whose confidence rests on making others feel inadequate. The first step to building self-confidence is to get these people out of your life immediately. Once you solidify this foundation, you will soon realize how pitiful these people are, and growth you had been capable of without them.

2. Do you even lift?

Not only has my physical condition improved from going to the gym, so has my mental strength. As my physical form has improved, my confidence has risen. We have spent millions of years evolving to physically exert ourselves. Our modern lifestyle has left many of us without this crucial key to endorphins and proper brain chemistry; a factor which has promoted never before seen rates of depression and anxiety. Lifting weights have left me feeling better than I can remember, with endorphins and testosterone at an all-time high.

For years, I either avoided the gym or found excuses to stop. The reason I never committed to fitness was largely a lack of interest in self-betterment, but also a feeling of cluelessness in the subject. I recommend utilizing the "Beginner's Health and Fitness Guide" linked here. This guide breaks down fitness in an incredibly easy to understand way. This information is not published by someone trying to sell you something. It was written by input from numerous online fitness enthusiasts and refined for accuracy as well as simplicity. This guide has helped me and many others in online communities start down the road to improved physical and mental health through fitness.

3. Do as much as possible, even when you don't feel like it. 


I squandered years of my short life secluding myself to a comfort bubble. While in college, I have realized that happiness largely rests on occupying yourself with new and real experiences as frequently as possible. Time which would have previously been wasted on my phone, the television, or playing online games was shifted to trying new things. As often as possible, I have pushed myself to undertake activities such as learning to snowboard, grabbing food with people from college whom I had just met, going hiking with strangers and our mutual friend, traveling solo, etc. Pushing myself further from my comfort bubble every day has been exceptionally conducive to not only living life to a greater degree but also decreasing the anxieties which we all experience.


What can you fix in your current life to build the lifestyle you dream of?





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