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A Different Kind Of Connected Christmas
17 Dec 2019
As LifeSearch research reveals, Brits now speak with each other 15% less than we did five years ago. Not only that, deep family dinner discussions are out and chat apps are in.
As a nation, we're not too proud to admit that digital gets in the way of the talks that matter.
At LifeSearch we think it's essential families have those heavyweight conversations. Awkward as they can be, knowing where our loved ones stand – in matters health, financial and protection – could save heartache and headaches later on.
This Christmas we'd like to suggest ways to connect. Not to WiFi or 5G but to the family.
So here are some tweaks to the festive itinerary … some of them you might even enjoy.
Playlist for life
Choosing music for Christmas Day isn't hard. A wet Chrimbo playlist or a scratchy old CD - bosh. Round and round it goes; all day long.
But for the before and after days, we recommend playing each family member’s Playlist for Life, an initiative started by a Glasgow dementia charity to harness the memory-inspiring power of music.
Preparing a Playlist for Life is a worthwhile thing for anyone of any age to do because few things can help us tell our story like music. Songs can instantly transport us back to the times and moments that shaped us. It's a vivid way to revisit scenes from life … and then share them with others.
So why not make the background music carve out deeper family connections this Christmas?
NB we suggest a song cap or someone's going to have, like, The Wall in its entirety.
The Smartphone Fine system
A group of friends pile into a restaurant/ pub/ cafe. All phones must go in the centre of their table. The first person to check loses … and has to pick up the whole tab.
This game, which may be real or may be a Vogue magazine creation, is a great idea that we’d like to take further.
We believe Christmas is a special time of year … and non-compliance should be punished. Ladies and gentlemen - the Smartphone Fine system.
It’s exactly what it says on the tin - penalties for using a phone over the festive period. First, let’s set parameters. Fines might be financial (£10 a gander). Or they might be on the forfeit system (saw that dad - you're on hoovering detail). Maybe it's the three strikes and you're out deal … like literally out. Out of the house and out of the family.
Being realistic, we probably need to allow one hour's peace time per day. Let's agree on a window so everyone can get in their day's texting, Tweeting and twerking. Twerking's a phone thing, right?
It's Christmas. Let's make one time of the year when we can entirely be in the room without digital distractions.
If it can’t be done, fine - you gotta pay.
Christmas Truth or Dare
Who doesn't love a game at Christmas? It's a British tradition to get tipsy as hell and fire up Monopoly. It's just as inevitable that one player will steal from the bank and another will storm off in a penniless huff. It's enshrined in law that Monopoly winners have to be total gits about it.
Siblings and competition can be an unpleasant mix, so let's use those dynamics to our advantage … with a Christmassy game of Truth or Dare.
And if it's not too cheesy, try for a protection-y twist.
Want to find out how much in savings mum has? Truth or dare her.
Has your sister actually taken out life insurance now she's a mum? Truth or dare her.
Did Dad actually write you out of the Will when you flunked maths? Truth or dare him.
Bit contrived? well then let's aim to uncover hidden nuggets from those we share names with. You’ll be amazed what your competitive brother might reveal in a bid to win points.
Gail where's your stash? Truth or dare.
Chris what's the deal with you and Ally? Truth or dare.
Mum, was dad your first? Truth or dare.
Dad where do you really go on Mondays? Truth or dare.
Grandma, why latex? Truth or … abandon ship.
It's possible that said game might cause arguments, so best set some ground rules. But not too many …
The truths are good to know. The dares are fun to watch. The revelations could be fascinating.
Alternative Christmas crackers
Some Christmas cracker jokes are brilliant … said no one ever. Mostly because they tend to go like this:
What do you get if you cross Santa with a detective? Santa Clues
Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas? Santa Jaws
Who delivers presents to cats? Santa Paws
Want to stick your finger in your ear and keep pushing? Thought so. Why do we tolerate the same recycled, formulaic, puntastic guff, year in year out?
Well d'you know what we're not having it this year. No sir. This year we're doing it differently. This year we asked each family member to stuff a different scrap of paper into their Christmas cracker.
And d'you know what, we asked that they didn't write awful jokes. We asked that they instead write conversation topics, personal facts and family anecdotes.
And they have. They've written real things they really want to say, and share, and ask, and talk about.
Sounds like Christmas dinner's off to a more connected start than what's brown and sticky.
Letters to each other
Every year we encourage our youngest to send letters to some undeserving beardy bloke. But when did we last get out pen and paper to write truths to our nearest and dearest?
We'd like to suggest scrapping letters to Santa this year (we don't think the repercussions will be too heavy) and instead fire off notes to our people.
I'm proud of you. I love you. I stole those biscuits. I broke that window. I ran up the Television X bill.
Or maybe, I'm struggling financially. I have no Will. I'm worried about the future.
No-one's saying it has to be a confessional. But maybe we can use quality Christmas fam time to get to know each other better; to give air to our worries and to work through issues together.
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