As our treasured elders grow older, their remembering of recent days may become difficult and perhaps frustrating. But their memories of yesterday and yesteryear are often crystal clear and chock full of emotion; that twinkle returns to their eyes.
What follows is a series of question which our family has used as conversation starters to reignite those memories and find nuggets we will cherish forever. Our kids asked these questions of their grandmothers. (*Be aware that they reflect the influence of times and standard cultural roles of generations past.) Feel free to cut and paste, print and distribute, or share and re-post. There can never be too many stories.
Were you named after someone, and why did they give you that name?
- Father, Full Name:
- Mother, Full Name:
How old was your mom when you were born, and were you the youngest child?
Who did they say you looked like?
Did you ever have a nickname?
What important news happened the day you were born?
Where were you born?
- Time of Day
- Eye Color
- Hair Color
Did you have any brothers or sisters, and what are their names and birth dates?
Did you ever fight with your brothers and sisters? Who treated you the nicest, and who the worst?
Did you have to share your room and your things?
What was the best birthday you ever had? Why?
Can you remember your favorite birthday present?
How much did the Tooth Fairy leave you for a tooth?
How old were you when you got an allowance, and how much was it?
How did your parents punish you? Who was more strict, Mom or Dad?
What was the naughtiest thing you ever did?
What were your favorite games and toys?
Did you ever go sledding, skiing or skating? What sports did you like?
What games or sports did your mom and dad play with you?
Did you get to stay up as late as you wanted to, and watch TV or listen to the radio or records?
Did you ever argue about your bedtime?
Did you ever go to the hospital? Did you have stitches or broken bones?
Were you scared of doctors or shots?
What kind of transportation did you have? Did you ever ride in a plane, bus, train, or boat when you were young?
Did you ever run away from home, or just hide from your mom and dad?
Where was your favorite place to go when you were angry?
What chores did you have to do?
When you were given money, what did you spend it on, toys, candy, etc? What could you buy for a quarter?
Did you have a pet, and what was its name?
What did you like most about your best friend? Was it a boy or a girl and what was his/her name?
Did boys ever tease you? Was there a bully who picked on you?
What did your house look like?
How big was your yard?
How many rooms did your house have? Did it have an attic or a creepy room that scared you?
What kind of appliances did you have to cook with, wash clothes and light the house?
How big was your room and what did it look like?
Could you keep it messy if you wanted?
How many people lived at your house?
How did you keep your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer?
What was your favorite thing in the whole house? Do you still have it?
What did you usually do on Thanksgiving (or another favorite holiday)?
Was your mom a good cook? What did she make best?
Did you live where they had snow? Did you make snowmen?
Did you help make Christmas cookies and candy? What were your favorites?
Do you remember a special gift you made for someone?
What did you do for Hanukkah?
Did you make cards to give on Valentine’s Day?
Did the Easter Bunny ever leave you a basket? Did you have an egg hunt?
Did you ever get flowers or candy from a boy?
Did your family have a picnic on the Fourth of July?
Did you have firecrackers or sparklers?
Did you dress up on Halloween? Did you ever make your own costume?
Did you have a party or play tricks on anyone?
Were you scared of ghosts or witches?
What traditions did your family have? Did you have any ethnic celebrations?
What schools did you go to?
Did you get good grades?
What subjects did you like?
Which ones did you hate?
Did you walk to school, or ride a bus?
Were you ever on a school team?
What sports did you participate in or watch?
Did you get lots of homework from your teachers?
What was your favorite trip?
Did your family go on vacations?
Did you go fishing or swimming?
Did you ever take a trip by yourself? Did you get lonely?
How old were you when you learned to drive?
Did your parents ever ground you? What for?
What did you and your friends do on weekends?
What time did you have to be home at night?
Do you remember your first date?
Where did you first meet Grandpa? How old were you both?
Where did Grandpa take you on your first date?
When did Grandpa ask you to marry him? Where were you?
What was your wedding like?
Did you have a honeymoon?
Where did you and Grandpa first live? Where was your first job?
Were you a good cook when you first got married? Did Grandpa help around the house?
What is your favorite funny story about the first year you were married?
When and where were your children born?
What was my dad/mom like as a baby?
Did my dad/mom get into any mischief?
What chores did my dad/mom have to do? Did you give him/her an allowance?
Did my dad/mom behave in school and get good grades?
What things did my dad/mom like to do best?
Did my dad/mom keep a clean room?
Did my dad/mom ever do something special or surprise you to make you happy or proud?
What will you always remember most about my dad/mom?
When did you learn to cook?
What was the first thing you learned to cook?
Did you ever have a big cooking disaster?
What is your favorite recipe?
- Ice Cream:
Can you remember any funny stories about your family members?
Is there a family trait?
What fads do you remember best?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Who are the people who’ve influenced you most? Why?
How did you feel when you first learned you were a Grandma?
What did you think when you first saw me?