Seizing the day – Interviewing family in the holidays

Louise the cowboy elf 🙂

The other day I was home in Navarre (my home town) visiting family and friends who were home for Christmas. It also happened to be my birthday this particular day (28/12) and I was provided with the best birthday present I’ve ever received – a chance to interview my Mum about her life. We have been talking about doing such an interview for at least 4 years, with my Mum always being willing and myself very much wanting to add my treasured Mum’s story to my library of family video biographies.

The problem has always been basically two-fold – not finding the time when she wasn’t too tired from work and/or the fact my 6 year old daughter is always with me when I visit “home”. This year, with my daughter spending a week with her Dad, and my Mum’s ever-welcoming house surprisingly free of people, we finally got our chance. The fact that it was my birthday certainly wasn’t going to stop me. In fact I used it as extra leverage – “You know what would be the best birthday present you could ever give me …”

Christmas holidays or other holiday periods throughout the year are often busy, crazy times, while at the same time being fun and joyous occasions. Some people may question the suitability of the holiday period to attempt a life story video interview. And in some cases I’m sure it wouldn’t be suitable. The last three Christmas periods have proven to be very unsuitable to interview my mother, but this year was our year. Other years I’ve usually found other relatives to interview.

One of the main reasons the holidays are a great time for family interviews is that if the person in question is on holidays, they are usually feeling relaxed. Hence they are much more likely to feel up to sitting down to what they may initially perceive to be a demanding or at least slightly stressful interview. This was another reason I now have an interview recorded with my Mum; she was relaxed and on holidays from work.

Another main reason to grab the holiday period as an opportunity for interviewing is that many relatives only visit once a year – at Christmas or at Easter. These people may otherwise live a long way away, providing little opportunity to capture their stories on video at other times. It really is a case of seize the day when it comes to this time of year. Grandma may only be visiting for 2 weeks. And as much as we don’t like to think it, no-one knows what the next day, let alone year, will bring.

I have a number of examples of opportunities lost – and with them the stories of the people I loved so much and that my daughter will never know. I regret so much not interviewing my daughter’s grandmother before she died. If I’d only seized the day with her, we’d all have a beautiful memory of Cynthia and not just photos that give no real sense of the lady who could talk the leg off a chair. It’s not only for my daughter that I wish I’d pushed aside my own fears, health complaints and other excuses.

This holiday season, find someone you love, get your video camera out, put it on a tripod – or stack of books! – and ask them about their life. You’ll never regret it!!

(Update: As of Nov 14th 2013 please contact me via email at, visit the 15 Minute Power Plays With Your Kids ebook Facebook or Twitter Page or visit the website If you happen to stumble across this post and it’s NOT because I’ve linked to it from my book, pop over and say hi anyway :-). Please  DO NOT go to my previous website at as it has been hacked)

Keep smiling


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