Christmas is a time of ritual, probably more so than any other annual celebration. When families get together, each generation usually has it?s own set of rituals.
For those of us whose elders have passed away, their rituals are how we remember them at Christmas time. For as long as I can remember my family sung carols from homemade song booklets made by mum and dad. The booklets have songs in both English and Latvian (mum and dad?s native tongue) and we would take turns singing in both languages. Dad still has the booklets and since mum passed away almost 10 years ago, keeping up that tradition is a bittersweet reminder of things past and present.
As some of our family members are no longer with us, Christmas is also a time of reflection. Discussing the past, what the coming year will bring, remembering loved ones and welcoming new comers. With so many people and memories together in the one place, wouldn?t it be great to record these, like a video time capsule. Your children will love watching these films when it comes time to start their own family and their own rituals
Sometimes the hardest thing is just getting started. This Christmas, take the time to capture some memories. You don?t even need bubbly to get people talking, although it can help. I promise you wont regret it. Here are some tips to make it easier.
Get the kids involved
An easy way to warm up is to grab your phone and film your kids asking your relatives about how they celebrated Christmas when they were little. There is a lot less pressure when the questions come from a child. If they are old enough one of them could even hold the phone while the other asks the questions. It is a great activity to get the whole family involved while you get the feast on the table. Asking people to think back to their childhood allows them to compare and contrast to the present day, a great ice breaker.
Two is company
People are often nervous about talking to a camera. Whatever the reason, distraction is the key. Ask two people to share their stories together in front of the camera, then whatever the topic, as long as they?re talking to each other the camera won?t be the focus of their attention. Bonus, you get two stories for the price of one.
Let photos tell the story
They say pictures tell a thousand words. In this case, photos are a great trigger for conversation. If you?re at someone?s house for Christmas, chances are there will be a photo album lying around somewhere. So often these albums have only a few details about when and where photos were taken. Get flicking through the album and you?ll soon find some of the best stories are about what?s not in the photo.
Use your nose
Christmas is a time of festivity and food. Our sense of smell is the strongest trigger of memory, because our smell receptors are connected to a part of our brain that is responsible for emotions and memories. You might want to get people sharing stories around the dinner table. Or better yet, be like Nigella and get people talking in the kitchen whilst they?re cooking. Maybe you?ll even find out that secret ingredient.
Keep it real
Be authentic with the people you want to record. Remember, when you?re asking someone a personal story, you?re asking them to be vulnerable. Whether they?re quiet and softly spoken or can talk underwater, getting someone to share authentically means creating a safe, comfortable space (physical and mentally). Sometimes the best way to do that is to share a personal story about yourself. Even if you don?t hit record, having that one authentic conversation will make it a memorable Christmas.
Edgars Greste is a husband to a wonderful wife and father of two hilarious children. He also has 15 years experience in media production and teaching. He?s worked as a producer/director in corporate video land, taught design students how to video and edit and run filmmaking workshops for refugees about the cathartic power of storytelling. Now all he wants to do is help people record their family stories for the future.?Go to?https://www.videomyfamily.com/xmasgift?to get 10% off your family Christmas video message.