We’re a chatty bunch, us Aussies. And while Christmas should be the ideal setting to strike up a conversation with family members you haven’t seen in a while, a new study has revealed that while we love a chat, as a nation we struggle to engage in anything more than ‘small talk’ with our relatives.
The nation-wide study by Ancestry and family therapist Jacqueline McDiarmid looked into the views of Aussies on spending Christmas with their relatives and found nearly half – 47 per cent – struggle to engage in more than ‘small talk’ with their nearest and dearest. Meanwhile, of the 1,000 surveyed, 44 per cent claim they feel less connected to their families than ever before.
While it could mean you’ll find yourself in some awkward situations this Christmas, McDiarmid said avoiding those conversations poses a much greater risk. According to the study, 80 per cent of Australians don’t have well-established Christmas traditions and if families continue to avoid having in-depth conversations for fear of awkwardness, this will only increase.
“Many people today are feeling more isolated and we often live in different parts of the world to our families, making it hard for relatives to spend quality time together,” McDiarmid said. “However, being connected to family is crucial for people to form a sense of identity and belonging.”
Instead of approaching the festive season with trepidation, McDiarmid suggested viewing it as a chance to spend precious time together and form stronger emotional connections.
“Christmas is a perfect time to tell the stories of our family roots and ancestors to our children and other members of our extended family,” she said.
Brad Argent, family history expert at Ancestry agreed with McDiarmid and said if families don’t put more effort into the way they interact with each other, they could miss the chance to create special memories with their loved ones.
“The downtime over the festive season is a great chance to reconnect with family and to get to know not only your living relatives but your ancestors and the rich lives they lived,” he said.
“By going on a journey with your family members to explore your shared history, you can create new, priceless memories that can be passed down through generations.”
To help spark those conversations around the Christmas table this year, McDiarmid together with Ancestry has put together a list of questions to get the conversation going.