Surprising Way to Connect with Family: Asking about Gratitude

During the holidays, as you spend time with family and friends near and far, here’s a way to feel a little more connected and maybe even surprised. Find a moment to ask someone about gratitude. Perhaps sitting quietly after a meal or connecting over the phone, try questions like:

  • What’s a time you were really grateful for something in your life that I might not know about?
  • What happened?
  • How did it make you feel?

As they answer, try to resist interrupting to give them the space to share deeply.

I lost my grandmother at the age of 102.

One of the things I’m most thankful for is the decision to interview her a few years ago about her life, including things she was grateful for. She shared a story about her father, my great grandfather, who was a workshop manager. With the onset of the Great Depression his boss told him to let all but a handful of workers go. Instead, he took the remaining shift hours, including his own, and divided them up so each person worked a few hours a week, enough to keep food on the table.

For years afterwards, Nana watched each holiday season as co-workers visited to share a few kind words and small gifts of appreciation. She valued her father’s kindness and generosity to her and others deeply, and I can see how they helped make her the loving grandmother I was lucky enough to have.

I hope you take a moment to talk with someone you care for. Even with someone you’ve struggled to connect with these past years, you might be surprised how asking them about their gratitude draws you closer and becomes a conversation you treasure.