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Are you planning to spend quality time with your family this Thanksgiving?

“Quality time” could mean different things to different people. Maybe your family all gets along really well and you can’t wait to hang out with them.

Or maybe you’re getting ready for the “same old – same old”: Your grandfather ranting about local politics, your uncle having a few too many beers and your cousins plugged into their phones.

For me, Thanksgiving never really had a big significance growing up. In Germany we don’t really celebrate and with all my family being so far away I won’t have a chance to actually spend any quality time with them either.

I always felt I wanted to get closer with my family – even if it is my group of “orphan” friends that I celebrate with that also don’t have their families in Canada. Especially with my grandparents I never know how long they still will be around and lately it’s getting very obvious to me that if I don’t ask them about their live, all their stories will disappear with them forever.

Not everyone wants to connect with their family – and that’s ok!

But if you’re like me, then you’ll enjoy these tips on how to connect with your family this Thanksgiving:

"Families are like branches on a tree. We all grow in different directions, yet the roots remain as one."

3 IDEAS FOR FAMILY BONDING DURING THANKSGIVING

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So you’re ready to hear stories you’ve never heard before and connect with your family ina new way? Start with these tips:

#1 TIP: Go Tech free

In the last few years everyone is on their smartphones 24/7 – and it’s probably the biggest obstacle to deeper human connection of our time. When scrolling through social media at the table you’re not only putting up a physical barrier between you and your family, you are also sending a subconscious message that your phone is more important than them.

I’m sure you’ve all experienced that from the other side.

You’re hanging out with friends and while you’re telling a captivating story they reach for their phone and check a message… It feels awful!

In a hyper-distracted world the biggest gift you can give people is YOUR PRESENCE.

? ACTION: Setup a little basket or box and invite your family members to leave their devices in there while sitting at the table for dinner. 

#2 TIP: Write Gratitude Letters

Thanksgiving is all about Gratitude.

So instead of just sharing what you’re grateful for this year you invite your family to share something they are grateful about each other? If you are ready to go even deeper pick up some nice letter paper and envelopes and have everyone write a short letter of gratitude to each other. This could be something that you share with everyone as they arrive and then while you wait for desserts it’s a great time to read some letters out aloud.

Sometimes people will have a hard time starting letters like this, so give them the following stems to complete:

  • Without you …
  • Because of you …
  • I am thankful for your …

? ACTION: No better way to connect with your family members than sharing gratitude with them. 

THE *NEW* FAMILY DECK

Get a digital download of the brand new “Family Deck” of ASK DEEP QUESTIONS with 48 thoughtful questions that go below the surface and allow you to make meaningful connections with your family.

#3 TIP: Ask Deep Questions

My favourite way to change up the usual smalltalk about politics, sports and the weather is by asking meaningful questions. And oftentimes I don’t want to be the “weird” guy who is asking these questions, so I created a deck of cards instead.

That allows everyone to feel in control about the question they want to answer (they can just exchange the card), plus it balances the people asking and the people replying so it doesn’t feel like an interrogation.

I also really encourage everyone to ask follow up questions because that is how you get to hear completely new stories and perspectives from your family members.

? ACTION: Write the following questions on cue cards and let your family pick a card at a time and share their answers.

  • What is one funny or embarrassing thing you did as a child?
  • How have your priorities changed over the years?
  • What is one thing you know today, but didn't know a year ago?
  • What is the next big milestone in your life?
  • How would you describe your family in 5 words?
  • How do you know when you're in love?

? Continue the conversation and get your own printable PDF of THE FAMILY DECK

THE *NEW* FAMILY DECK

Get a digital download of the brand new “Family Deck” of ASK DEEP QUESTIONS with 48 thoughtful questions that go below the surface and allow you to make meaningful connections with your family.

Start with curious questions to ease into the conversations in a fun way and then go deeper with brave and vulnerable questions to hear stories you might not have ever heard before.

Jan Keck

Jan Keck

Jan’s mission is to help people feel less alone, so by creating experiences, workshops and programs he is fueling the movement for deeper human connection. His work has been featured on TEDx, CBC News, Breakfast TV, Cityline and HuffPost and he is currently building a community of facilitators that design the MAGICAL HUMAN MOMENTS online.