I’m automatically a fan of any question that gets a grandparent singing! And this question in particular has some magic in it. Any answer will give you some texture and insight into two people you can’t ever really know: 1) your own parent as a toddler and 2) your grandparent as a new mom/dad. Continue reading Do you remember any songs that you used to sing to my dad/mom? Can you sing them now?
It wasn’t a Playstation. And it probably wasn’t even close to the cost of one. I love this question. It’s a lesson in how to get maximum joy from minimal expenditure. (Fun fact: In 1950, 1 dollar could get you what $10.02 can get you today.) Continue reading What was the best gift you remember receiving as a child?
I’m not one to imagine that everything was better back in the day. But I DO get the sense that kids in past generations were given more responsibilities earlier on in life. And the responsibilities seemed to matter more. It wasn’t just “make your bed” or “pick up your toys” but tasks of consequence — things that, if left undone, would impact the family’s day-to-day functioning. Make sandwiches for your sisters. Or, I dunno…feed the chickens. (I just made that one up. I gotta ask my grandmas this question so I can get real answers! Go ask yours!) Continue reading What responsibilities did you have at home when you were young?
I love hearing a good you’s-in-trouble story. And there’s a certain joy that comes over people when they recall the trouble they got themselves into. Maybe because it reminds them of a simpler time in life. Or maybe it reminds them of their family. Heck, maybe they’re just glad they survived it. Ask your grandparents this question. I guarantee it will bring a smile to their faces. And you may get to hear a story about something awesome like a 50 cent movie that was worth sneaking out for. Continue reading Do you have a vivid memory of something you did that you were disciplined for?
It’s not easy. Growing older. I recently read the deeply affecting memoir When Breath Becomes Air by a Stanford neurosurgeon who died of cancer in his 30’s. The memoir includes a quote by C.S. Lewis that points out, “Bereavement is not the truncation of married love but one of its regular phases – like the honeymoon. What we want is to live our marriage well and faithfully through that phase too.” Dang C.S. Lewis. Drop the mic. This type of hard, unflinching wisdom is so valuable because it helps us see life’s joys more clearly and prepare for its pains more intentionally. C.S. Lewis isn’t the only one with that wisdom. I bet your grandparents have it. Ask them.
Continue reading What are the most difficult and most rewarding things about growing older?
This question has a not-so-hidden agenda. It’s pulling double duty. First off, this is a beautiful thing to talk about with your grandparent. It just is. 100% worth it. But secondly, for anyone who is planning their wedding or is going to in the future, these questions are a MUCH NEEDED dose of reality check. Today, the wedding industry machinery is a crazy thing. It’s completely out of hand. They make it seem like you absolutely must serve a full meal, and dance, and take pictures, and have wedding favors, and host a brunch the next day, and, And, AND… Or else guests will be horrified and feel embarrassed for you. Ppshhh! B.S. As humans we all do compare ourselves to what we see around us. Comparing is inevitable. But fine – if you’re going to compare your wedding to something, why not compare it to your grandparent’s wedding? Odds are it was simple, and sacred, and amazing. Find out the details. Honor that tradition. And if tiered cakes and drone shots and goodness-knows-what-else don’t feel like you, screw it. Do what Nana did. Serve punch and pie and be in love for 50 years. That woman is kickass and you know it. Continue reading Can you tell me about your wedding? Where was it? How many people were there? Did you dance? Did you eat?
The nature of work has changed so much just in the past 20 years. Let alone the past 60! Asking this question about grandparents’ jobs is definitely like stepping into a time machine. (As an aside, did you know that before alarm clocks, there was a job called a “knocker-upper”? You paid a person to knock on your window at the hour you specified. Crazy! Continue reading What was your first job? What was your favorite job?
Come on? Does this one really need any explanation? Is it ever a bad time to hear your grandparents explain “keen” or “swell” or talk about the first time they saw a bikini? (Heads up: We’ll all be old someday soon so make sure you’re taking notes about cat memes and Gagnam style so you can explain it all in 2070.) Continue reading What kinds of clothes, hobbies, slang terms were popular when you were a teenager?
Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it. Right? Let’s get at the wisdom in our families! Continue reading What big world events were the most memorable while you were growing up?
Sometimes knowing the details is what really makes you feel connected with someone. Also, if your grandparent is not “touchy-feely” enough to open up about life regrets or emotional memories, this kind of question is perfect for getting the conversation going. Continue reading What was your room like, growing up? Can you describe it? And did you share it with other family members?
I can’t with 100% certainty tell you the full names of my two living grandparents. That’s no good at all… But maybe I’m not alone in that. This is a great question that will take you on a short journey up your family tree. Continue reading What’s your full name? And can you remind me if you’re named after anyone else in our family?