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Worthwhile conversations with Gran

I was blessed with loving grandparents who made a point of spending time with me and engaging fully in my world. We’d play Bingo. Grandma would pull out an old adding machine for us to punch all the buttons. They’d turn a deaf ear when we decided to play the piano. Grandma would walk about the garden with us to acquaint us with her favourite flowers. We’d feed the fish in their acquarium, cuddle kittens and play fetch with the pup in the garden. Given nice weather, we’d count the cows, or take a walk. We’d make ice cream, popcorn and fresh apple pies. My grandparents were a big part of my world and played a big role in making my childhood a happy one.

Now, as a 38 year old, I wish my grandparents were still around. I want to ask them about their childhood. What was it like to be 10 in 1921 and 1935? What did they play with? Who were their friends? What wise words would they have to share with me?

Sadly, my grandma died an early death at the age 68 (I was 14). My grandpa died at 88, but his brain became riddled with dementia when I was just 16…I was much too young and inexperienced to ask them the sorts of questions I’d like to today. So, I know their favourite flower and ice cream, but I don’t know their happiest moment or the name of their kindest friend.

This realization inspired my gift to my parents and my husband’s parents last Christmas. We gifted them a book called 'The Family Project' by the Guardian’s family editor, Harriet Green. It’s a lovely book that’s meant to spark conversations with loved ones and capture their answers so that their wise words and stories will be around for us to turn to when our loved ones are no longer a phone call away.

So, during your children's next visit with Gran, bring along a few conversation starters to turn idle chatter into worthwhile conversations. Here are a few inspired by 'The Family Project':

  • Growing up, what did your family do to say 'I love you'?
  • Did you have a pet when you were young? Where did they come from? 
  • What did you like to have for dinner when you were young? 
  • What was your favourite children's book? 
  • How would you like to celebrate your next birthday? 
  • What's your favourite birthday memory? 
  • As a child, what was your favourite game? Who did you play it with?
  • Name 5 things you think are true about another family member? 
  • What was your mum like? Your dad?
  • Did your family go on holiday together? 
  • Did you have a favourite outfit as a child?

Bumble Box family activity kits are designed to bring families together. We catch animals' footprints in the sand, give the trees a shake to see what's living in there, host a Family Olympics, plant a fairy garden, race homemade boats in the stream...you get the drift.

Together, we'll make it through your family-time bucket list.

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