27 Thoughtful Questions To Ask 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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6 Huge Ways Your Life Changes After Escaping A Small Town

"Don't let small-town life make your life small."

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I've read a few articles on small towns and some statistics show that 20-30% of Americans live in small towns and 80% of the nation's population lived in one of the 350 combined metropolitan statistical areas.

After growing up in a small town myself, I think it can sometimes be difficult to be the person you want to be while trying to please all of your small-town fans. This is the first time in my life I've moved away from my small town with the intention to stay away for a very long time.

Why would I do something so silly?

Over the past two years, I realized how my hometown was stopping me from growing and accomplishing my dreams. Hanging out with friends generally became a gossip session because we were together so often and had nothing more to talk about. Neighbors knew where I was or who I was with. There was always some type of pressure to please everyone. There has always been someone to compare my life to or to be like.

Finally, I realized how detrimental this mentality was to my success.

After a series of events this year, I finally gathered the courage to pick up my life and move somewhere where I was a “no one." Somewhere where I could start fresh and never have to worry about pleasing someone down the street. I can vouch that this has been the biggest change in my life and the best possible move I could have made.

So what things actually change?

1. You find out who your true friends are.

This one will shock you. Remember that person you used to go to dinner with or spent countless nights finding a party or get together to go to with? That person magically fades away. The convenience of you being down the road is no longer an option and that person has now found a new acquaintance who has replaced you. Your genuine friends will continue to invite you to be a part of whatever and most will plan to spend time with you or come see you.

2. You no longer have a close-minded perception of everything.

I remember going to a grocery store and hearing the small town gossip from aisle to aisle. I remember how one-sided most issues were and if you weren't on board, your opinion was irrelevant. Now I can go to the store and not know a single person and have an opinion about anything I want and not have to worry about being shunned.

3. You suddenly turn into a mystery.

This one is great. People will start wondering where you went or what you've been up to. When I call my parents, I always get a good laugh from the conversations they've had with others who wonder what I'm up to. My favorite quote that relates to this is, “The less you reveal, the more people can wonder."

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Adult Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

4.You are suddenly a nobody in your new community, and it's great.

I have a bad habit of trying to avoid people I know, so when I go into stores or do anything in public, I love being a nobody. I love being able to do all of my grocery shopping without being interrupted or asked about school.

5. You appreciate the small hometown things more.

I'm not going to lie, I cringe thinking about making a trip home, but that pizza place I had four times a week and those margaritas that my friends and I would gulp down when celebrating everything from a birthday to making it through a rough day at work suddenly become luxury items. You enjoy those country cruises and those salty fries so much more when you're away.

6. You start to find yourself.

I left this one for last because it's by far the most important thing that's happened to me. I got stuck thinking I needed to be married by 22 and have a family by the time I was 27. I no longer think this. I finally have a bucket list that involves so much more than beating my best friend in a keg stand at the annual town bonfire. I have found who I am through solely relying on me and the things that make me happy.

SEE ALSO: 8 Things You Realize After High School


Don't get me wrong, I love my hometown. It's made me who I am today, but even if it's only for six months, escape your small town. Get away and experience the world. Don't wait until it's too late. It's great out here!

Cover Image Credit: 10 Best Media

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In The Words Of Casting Crowns, My Life Will Be For 'Only Jesus'

"Only Jesus" by Casting Crowns has inspired me to live my life for Jesus.

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When I watch the music video for Casting Crowns "Only Jesus" I am reminded of the reason why we are on this earth, alive, breathing air through our lungs, our hearts beating, and time going on and on.

We are on this earth, not to seek our own glory, our own accolades, and our own selfish greed, but to know God, love God, and to make Him known in this world, through sharing how God's son Jesus has set us free from our sinful lives and has resurrected us spiritually.

At the beginning of the video, we see Mark Hall, the lead singer of Casting Crowns, driving down a road, eventually driving into a junkyard. The junkyard is both a setting for the music video and an allegory. The junkyard is allegorical to show that everything we obtain in this world, both material things and in achieving our own selfish pursuits of self-glory, self-pride, and self-adulation, will one day rot away and decay into nothingness.

No one will remember you in 500 years when you are dead and gone. The only exception to this is if you do something spectacular with your life that makes you famous. Only then will people remember what you did, not the person that you really was.

But living for Jesus and dedicating our lives to the "good fight" is the everlasting legacy we should pass on.

We should be remembered how we dedicated every minute of our lives being fishers of men for Jesus. When Christian men and women live this way, their children learn about God's love, which in turn causes them to surrender their lives to God, then passing God's love to their children, repeating this infinite loop of love for all time until Jesus comes back. Only Jesus is eternal. Only His love is eternal.

So when I die, "I don't want to leave a legacy. I don't care if they remember me, only Jesus."

Because my Lord Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit is the only thing that matters.

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