Tell Family Stories This Holiday Season

breiby@growyourgiving.orgIndividual & Family Giving

The act of storytelling and story keeping is an important piece of understanding and knowing ourselves and others around us. The stories we tell and the stories we hear transcend generations and shape who we are today.

Many of our formative memories often involve the holiday season. Why? Families are often focused on creating special memories and traditions, and for little ones especially, it ignites the imaginative spirit of our inner child.

As we’re gathering with family and friends once again, you might find it a worthwhile exercise to focus on intentional storytelling and story keeping this holiday season. Want to try out a few exercises and see what sticks? Here are a few ideas:

  • Think back to your own childhood holidays.
    Spend time reflecting on your own. Do you have fond memories from being a kid that are important to you? Did you and your family bond over giving back during the holidays? Are there lost but enjoyable traditions you want to revive? Were there hardships that you encountered over the holidays that shaped who you are today?
  • Add an activity for the whole family.
    Find an activity that allows everyone at the holiday celebration a chance to speak. Some families have each family member share one thing they are thankful for this holiday season. You could also try having everyone answer the same (or different!) rhetorical question so everyone can share and be heard. Try out our Let’s Talk Giving conversation starters.
  • Lean into listening and focus on connection.
    Storytelling and listening, after all, is a bid for connection. Practice creating a safe and warm environment, focusing intently on the storyteller and asking open-ended questions. During the dance of conversation, focus on supportiveness, discovery and curiosity rather than defensiveness, passiveness or criticism.

How have your family’s stories shaped what causes are important to you? As you focus on intentional storytelling while creating traditions during the holidays, make space for conversation on charitable interests and passions. You might discover how storytelling brings your family’s philanthropic story to life.

Lastly, good storytelling practices are not developed overnight. By remaining focused on the small acts and developing habits, you’ll slowly but intentionally be adding meaningful holiday traditions that involve lots of conversation you’ll come back to in the years to come.

Do you want to dive in and focus on how storytelling and story keeping shapes your philanthropic journey? Our philanthropic advisors are here to help you exercise your storytelling muscles and inspire you to document your family’s philanthropic journey. Contact us to get the conversation started.

Authored by: Senior Philanthropic Advisor Kelli Doyle