How to make the most of holiday gatherings.

It’s a little risky to say what I’m about to say. I have some friends (some who are family, some who are not) who read what I write here. But by revealing this secret, we may have even more fun the next time we meet.

I’m introverted. When there is a large social gathering, I look for the edges. I used to think that was anti-social. Now I realize it’s an effective way to build relationship.

Several years ago, I started planning for the large gatherings that happen around holidays, whether family gatherings or other parties. I started thinking about specific questions I could ask people.

  • “Last time we were together you were talking about doing X. How did that turn out?” (This requires a few minutes to review your last conversation with this person. But that might be a good idea.)
  • “I just read a story about ____. How is that going to affect you?” (This requires actually doing some research before your trip. But what could that hurt?)
  • “What’s your first memory of Uncle Albert?” (Which means that the other person knows Paul and Linda McCartney songs, or that some family reminiscing is a good thing.)

The point is planning to learn something from a person at the event rather than worrying or arguing or hiding.

I talked in October about the conversation Luke and Philip probably had about Philip’s life as a traveling preacher. It’s a conversation that happened at the edges, because Luke was willing to listen for Philip’s story. You may not be Luke and no one in your family may have disappeared from a road in Israel. But I’m guessing you don’t know all the stories of all the people at tomorrow’s Christmas party.

Not yet, anyway.

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More from Jason Dykstra about 5 ways you can survive your holiday gatherings.

And a special Christmas eve suggestion. If you want to order A Great Work as a Christmas gift, go ahead. It’s great for people who aren’t sure where to start reading the Bible, or for people who want a conversation rather than a lecture. Then send me an email at jon@anewroutine.com and I’ll send you a PDF book cover to print, personalize and put in an envelope.

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About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of 300wordsaday.com. I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

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