Updated: Nov 16, 2018

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 often how we remember them at Christmas time. I remember my grandfather, reading a small passage from the bible in Latvian. He was a first generation refugee to Australia in 1949. When our family grew to include non-Latvian speakers, I would read the same passage in English. Now since his passing, I feel compelled to read in Latvian to honour his memory.

As some of our family members are no longer with us, Christmas is also a time of reflection. About what’s happened, what is yet to come, who’s no longer here 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.

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.

Two is company

People are often nervous about talking to a camera. Whatever the reason, distraction is the key. Once you’ve decided to video some stories, get two people in front of the camera. 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.

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