I think that sitting and being present with someone, and asking them important questions is something that doesn’t happen that often during the course of day to day life. And is one of the most profound and powerful ways we have to tell someone else how much we love them. Just asking them who they are and what they’ve learned in life. And how they want to be remembered.
Next week is my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is all the family of Christmas, but without all the pressure. Instead of driving ourselves crazy trying to buy gifts and decorate, we just get together to enjoy each other’s company, to appreciate our blessings, and to eat! How does it get any better than that?
Well, 2 things! First, this is my first Thanksgiving with my new niece, and I’m extra excited to share with her our Thanksgiving traditions.
Second, StoryCorp is hosting their annual Great Thanksgiving Listen. Because Thanksgiving brings people together, it’s a unique opportunity to interview those we know and love. And even though we’ve known and loved them for years, interviewing them can reveal parts of them we didn’t know– maybe even parts of them or pieces of their story that they’ve forgotten about. Most importantly, interviewing someone an act of love. I believe very deeply that everyone has a story, everyone needs to tell their story, and that everyone deserves to have their story heard. There is no greater gift that we can give someone than the gift of being curious about who they are, listening to their story, and valuing their perspective.
So, this Thanksgiving, I encourage you to participate in the Great Thanksgiving Listen. The first step is to download the StoryCorp app on your phone. Their app is fantastic. It will let you choose the questions from multiple categories, so if you’re worried you won’t know what to ask, relax. Then you can press the record this interview button and it will walk you through how to conduct the interview step by step.
After the interview is finished, it is automatically entered into the StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress and on StoryCorps.me where they become an invaluable resource for future historians and provide families with a priceless piece of personal history.
A granddaughter interviews her grandfather
In this sweet interview, a granddaughter who remembered her grandfather as once being an intimidating figure in her life, but as they have both grown older and maintained their close relationship, she now sees him as fun, protective, and loving.
A father remembers his sons
If you think you can handle it, this one will really pull your heartstrings. John Vigiano Sr. is a retired New York City firefighter whose two sons followed him into service—John Jr. was a firefighter, too, and Joe was a police detective. On September 11, 2001, both Vigiano brothers responded to the call from the World Trade Center, and both were killed while saving others. Here, John Sr. remembers his sons and reflects on coping with his tremendous loss.
A love story
Brooklynites Danny, an OTB clerk, and Annie, a nurse, remember their life together—from their first date to Danny’s final days with terminal cancer. This remarkable couple personifies the eloquence, grace, and poetry that can be found in the voices of every day people if we take the time to listen.