Dot’s Reading Room: ‘Over the Holidays Try Talking to Your Relatives Like an Anthropologist’

December 21, 2022
Dot’s Reading Room

This is probably one of the more thoughtful articles I’ve read in a long time.  Over this holiday period, when you are together with older relatives, why not take a few minutes to follow some of the author’s suggestions.

Or, if you go with a relative or friend to the Council on Aging, that might also be an opportunity to try some of the questions you’ll find here.  Elizabeth Keating, Professor of Anthropology, The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts writes:

“How is it possible to spend so much time with your parents and grandparents and not really know them?

“This question has puzzled me as an anthropologist. It’s especially relevant for the holiday season, when millions of people travel to spend time with their families.

“When my parents were alive, I traveled long distances to be with them. We had the usual conversations: what the kids were doing, how the job was going, aches and pains. It wasn’t until after my parents died, though, that I wondered whether I really knew them in a deep, rich and nuanced way. And I realized that I’d never asked them about the formative periods of their lives, their childhoods and teenage years.”

Read on, to see how to ask the right questions and learn more about your family.

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