Conversation starters for a harmonious family feast

via New Yorker's Thanksgiving email to subscribers, 11/22/2017

via New Yorker's Thanksgiving email to subscribers, 11/22/2017


It's usually the day or two before Thanksgiving that I begin to see my social media news feeds fill up with posts (some tongue-in-cheek, others decidedly serious) about how to have conversations with our relatives when we gather for Thanksgiving. I'm not entirely sure why it's this particular holiday that most concerns us? Maybe it's the time of year (election season) or that there's not much else to do together as a family but eat - no gifts to unwrap, eggs to hunt, firecrackers to distract us from just plain, old conversation with people we may or may not see any other time of the year.

I would like to propose that we not allow this beautiful, simple idea of feasting and conversation be co-opted by our fears of controversy. In my experience - in which I've spent a great deal of time being utterly terrified of conflict - I find it helpful to go into these sorts of social situations prepared with good conversational fodder. It's almost become a spiritual practice for me.

Last year, for Christmas, our friend Amy gave us a jar full of colorful craft tiles - each tile marked with a simple question we could ask each other over a meal. To my delight, my ADULT children loved this jar so much, I've kept it near or at the center of our table all year long. We use it when we have company, and we use it when it's just Brian and me sitting at dinner. Conversation is a skill, like any other, that requires practice; an art form that is nurtured by imagination.  We've found these conversation starters to be just the right muse for our family.

If I were a good blogger, I'd have told you about this weeks ago, and included a craft tutorial or a fancy printable to use for your own jar of colorful, conversation tiles. Hopefully, this little bullet list will help anyway.  You could print this sheet out and have people "draw" randomly by telling you a number from 1-25, and then you telling them the question they've chosen.

  1. By the way, I'm typing this bullet list by randomly drawing tiles from the bowl!
  2. Actors to play us in a movie
  3. Worst advice I ever got
  4. Historical figure I'd have dinner with
  5. Favorite lame joke
  6. Best memory with you
  7. First thing I'd update in my house
  8. Top 5 musical acts
  9. My perfect sandwich
  10. Era I'd like to live
  11. I'd like my legacy to be
  12. Biggest fear
  13. How I'd dispose of a dead body (Brian and I have been surprised to learn our kids have spent a great deal of time thinking about this!)
  14. Retirement dreams
  15. Top 3 bucket list
  16. Favorite way to relax
  17. Funniest moment together
  18. Talent or hobby I wish I had
  19. Favorite tradition of ours
  20. Dream vacation
  21. Proudest moment
  22. Best advice I ever got
  23. Last meal
  24. Favorite time of year
  25. Toy I never got as a kid (Another popular one at our table!)

May we all enjoy some good, imaginative conversations during our feasting this week!