There is a Chinese proverb that states, "A family with an old person in it has a nugget of gold". That is especially true for anyone researching their family history. As any beginning genealogist knows, our older relatives have a wealth of family history to share. It is vital to tap into this resource and knowing how to get the information is the key to unlocking this treasure trove of your family's history.
One of the best ways to evoke a memory is through photographs. The visual sparks a recollection of the event, the people, the joy, the laughter, the surrounding details. If you can spend time with an older relative going through old photographs you will unleash a torrent of memories. The opportunity will allow you to identify those in the photo, the reason the photo was taken and sometimes tidbits of information about some of the characters in the photo. One of the lovely things about the elderly is that their filters relax as they age. Things that were once taboo to speak of with others may now get shared quite freely ("she was always such a tart, you know")
As you are spending time with family over the holidays, at reunions, family celebrations, take advantage of the opportunity to sit and speak with the elderly relatives. If photographs aren't available ask questions that will evoke memories for them. If you are at a wedding or christening, ask about weddings or christenings of long ago.