Thanksgiving sure has changed! It used to be the greatest get-together of the year! It was the perfect combination of feast and family, relatives and relaxation, heart and happiness, oh, and pumpkin pie! Recently, that’s begun to change.
Every family has that one relative who loves to ruffle feathers, start skirmishes, and ignite the dialogue at the dinner table. And these days it doesn’t take much to set things off. Out goes civility, out goes respect and in comes posturing, in comes grandstanding. It has not only ruined holidays and relationships, but it has made us dread the potential for repeat performances each time the holiday season rolls around. Now, when we get together, we think more about what NOT to say. We make small talk. We barely scratch the surface. We work very hard to avoid talking about, “you know who,” or “you know what.”
None of us spend enough time with the people who are most important to us. Let’s make a pledge this time around. Let’s try not to waste the opportunity. Let’s not pass on a chance to truly connect. Let’s not miss out on a truly memorable time. Let’s add a little bit of Growing Bolder to our Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get to know loved ones on a deeper level. To share meaningful dialogue, and that is what Growing Bolder is all about. And here’s the kicker; If you are engaged in truly meaningful conversation, you will be much more likely to forget about the topics that divide us. It is possible for everyone around the table to become absorbed in the things that bind us, delight us, and unite us.
Adding a little Growing Bolder is perfect for your Thanksgiving get-together, but it also works ANY time you have the chance to be with the people you love. It reminds us that true conversation is not just filling silence. True conversation is an art. We seem to have forgotten how important and how good it feels to be open, honest, emotional and vulnerable, and how good it feels to lend validation, support, and compassion.
All you need are two skills. You need to be able to express. Not just talk, not just to fill the awkward silent moments. You need to be able to express yourself from the heart.
The other skill is you need is to be able to listen. To hear. To understand. Without judgement, without dismissal. You need to validate. You need to allow room for everyone to add their personal ingredients to the meal.
So, how do you add some Growing Bolder to your Thanksgiving dinner conversation? You’ve already heard the same old family stories again and again, but beyond the basics, what do you really know about the people and events that shaped your life, and the lives of your loved ones?
There’s always more to learn. Always more to tell. Dive a little deeper. Dive into areas of interest. Things that matter. Ask questions from the heart. Frame them so they cannot be answered “yes” or “no” and ask about subjects everyone will want to and be able to add to.
Offer questions that serve as launch points to reveal true feelings, untold insights and helpful lessons about life. A simple way to do this is by thinking in terms of questions about the past, the present and the future. Here are some examples:
- Describe yourself as a child. What were you like? Who were your friends? Why?
- What were your favorite toys? Which do you wish you had? Who did you play with?
- Who most influenced you? Who did you wish to be like? Who did you think was cool?
- What are the craziest things you ever did?
- What do you wish you still had from the past?
- Who are you most grateful to?
- What are your hidden talents?
- Tell us about your guilty pleasures.
- How would you describe yourself?
- What do you wish you were more appreciated for?
- What skills do you have that would most surprise us?
- What are the best things about your life at this age?
- What family traditions do you hope your children and grandchildren will carry on?
- How would you like to be remembered?
- What are the items on your bucket list?
- What would you like to accomplish in the next year?
- What is your plan for life as you age?
- What lessons can we learn from what you’ve been through in life?
You could certainly come up with a list of your own. Just don’t waste your opportunity critiquing the latest series you binged on your favorite streaming platform. Don’t pointlessly argue why your favorite sports team got a raw deal. Don’t shatter family ties trying to convince others that their opinions and beliefs are flawed compared to yours.
Accept each other for who you are, celebrate your differences, establish a deeper connection through meaningful conversation, and most of all, add a little Growing Bolder and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!