Holiday Survival — Dinnertime Dogma, Snooping Houseguests, and Christ’s Bar Mitzvah

By Piper Bayard

This month, Holmes and I are dedicated to spreading cheer and relieving the tension of the holidays. We invite you to send your questions to me, a pragmatic author/belly dancer and not-so-closet redneck, and Holmes, a man with experience in intelligence and covert operations who thinks 90% of life’s problems can be solved with sex, C4, or hollow points.

Brendan Stallard has a serious question for us, and it’s one that we’re sure many people have had to deal with over the years:

His problem relates to relatives who parrot dogma at the dinner table. “It seems as if all they want is to sit around the table and moan about the welfare mothers, tax dodgers and the grasping poor, and nod like idiot donkeys at one another at their meanness. They are all wealthy, and have never known much of hard work or poverty. I love them all dearly, as mad and crazy right wingers as they are.”

Reindeer fences SeppVei wikimedia public domain

Image by SeppVei.

Note how this reindeer fence makes an excellent boundary.

Some come in, some stay out, and we can still chat with them through the bars.

Bayard & Holmes:

You’re going to have to set some boundaries, and you have every right to do so. It’s your home. When people visit your home, they have to play by your rules or leave. And while hollow points and C4 might be fun, Christmas is always better if you can get through dinner without them so let’s look at alternatives.

You might want to call a truce to political discussions in advance of the gathering with a little, “Let’s agree to make this fun for everyone and stay away from politics this year.” People will still wander back to that topic by habit, at which you would be in a position to smile and say in a warm tone, “Hey, nooooo politics guys! It’s the holidays.”

No politics at a dinner table was a common social rule not very long ago so instituting that rule in your home would not be a radical departure from social norms. A smile and sweet tone of voice can make almost any rebuke acceptable to the other person. Just make sure you don’t answer their assertions with your own or the fight will be on.

A second approach would be to ignore their chatter and their opinions the way you might ignore a loud advertisement on the television. Envision yourself hitting a mute button and tune them out altogether.

The more extreme solution would be simply not inviting them. Our guess is that with good communication prior to the visit, though, you will not have to take that step.

Good luck! And please let us know how it goes.

Sneaking a Peek by Peter Fendi

Sneaking a Peek by Peter Fendi

Susie Lindau has an issue with nosey guests:

I wonder how to handle the obnoxious guest who tours the entire house including my closets and medicine cabinets?


The first thing that comes to mind is the memory of a young woman in my college dorm who was having issues with someone stealing her shampoo. My solution—I mean her solution—was to fill the shampoo bottle with hair remover.

Along those lines, I think it would be fun to take some sort of popular and attractive medication, like Ativan or Percocet, and put the bottle front and center in your medicine cabinet. However, before your party, take the real meds out and fill it with some sort of extreme laxative. Just remember to switch the meds back after everyone has gone home. When your guest is too “busy” the next day to leave his or her house, you can sit back and smile, knowing you’ve done the world a service.


Snooping when you are a guest in a home is something that CIA agents risk getting shot to do to targets in enemy states. It’s not reasonable conduct for legitimate guests.

Texanne and other readers suggested rigging loud alarms or other surprises to your medicine cabinet. This would be effective as long as you are up for the ensuing conversation with the violator. Perhaps I am naïve, but I have to wonder if your guest list is a touch to long. If these folks can’t be trusted with your medicine cabinet, can they be trusted to be in your home with your children?

Julie Glover is out of sync with the Holiday spirit:

How the heck can we get Christmas back down to 12 days? I’m a Scrooge until about December 15, when I think the Christmas season really should begin. If it wasn’t for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and my church’s candlelight service, I might want to give up celebrating Jesus’ birthday altogether and see if there’s a quieter holiday for his bar mitzvah instead. (Okay, now that I re-read that, maybe the question is, How can I get in the holiday spirit?)

Bar Mitzvah at Western Wall in Jerusalem uploaded by Alwynloh wikimedia

Bar Mitzvah at Western Wall in Jerusalem. Not Jesus’ Bar Mitzvah, but no doubt similar.

image by Alwynloh, wikimedia commons


I think you may be onto something with that bar mitzvah idea, especially since Christ’s bar mitzvah would have been the same time of year, I’m guessing. When people wish you a “Merry Christmas” respond with “Matzel Tov!” Then write up their reactions and publish them. That way, you haven’t offended anyone, you aren’t celebrating Christmas before you’re ready, and you get some fun and a blog out of it. It’s win/win all the way around.


Christmas season starts for YOU when YOU say it does. Decorate on the day that you want to and ignore Christmas until then. The fact that others are in a “Christmas groove” doesn’t mean that you have to be. It’s YOUR Christmas. Make it what you want it to be.

Carry a water pistol with you, perhaps something in a festive red and green, and when people assault you with their Christmas spirit, give them a quick squirt and say, “Merry Christmas, my ass!” That should serve you with the dual purpose of putting them in their place, and you in the holiday spirit.

Please tell us about your Holiday Survival dilemmas in the comments section below. Nothing warms our hearts during the holiday season like turning your problems into our opportunities. And remember, no question is out-of-bounds, but our answers might be.

19 comments on “Holiday Survival — Dinnertime Dogma, Snooping Houseguests, and Christ’s Bar Mitzvah

  1. tomwisk says:

    Thanks I needed that.

  2. J Holmes says:

    Hi tomwisk. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Wonderful advice- I will be shopping for a water pistol ASAP

  4. susielindau says:

    These are great! Thanks for the amazing advice. Now I know how to handle pesky guests.
    I just got home after being out all day! I just need to swap out those pills…

  5. So funny! Now all I can think is I wonder if Jesus did have a BM and, if so, what would his parsha (Torah portion) have been.

  6. Do you know my family? I’d swear you do!!! Ha! Hilarious! Thanks.

  7. Vila says:

    LOLOLOL Loved it! I think someone should update “A Christmas Carol”, Hallmark movie, and make sure that a red and green water pistol is one of the props used by Uncle Scrooge. Okay, so maybe not Hallmark, but I bet Sam Ramie would consider it.

  8. Piper and Jay, you are performing a major piece of social good work here. Susie Lindau could try stealing an idea from Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon keeps his money in a jar guarded by those spring loaded “snakes” that spring out when you open the lid. Take out all your medications and replace them with a couple of dozen spring loaded snakes. The snoop will then have to stuff them all back ln your medicine cabinet to avoid detection. And maybe you place a sign on the wall at the back of your cabinet. “I know you’re looking for my paranoia medications. Stop it!”

    • J Holmes says:

      Hi Richard. I wonder if we couldn’t devise a smaller version of the FBI dye packs for bank robbers. Perhaps the die would not explode but simply transfer from a transparent coating on a hoax medicine bottle to the snoopers hands. I like the sign idea.

      Have a great Christmas

  9. “please let us know how it goes.”


    They were due here today, but cried off with the deadly lergy. I’m kinda pleased about that, because yesterdays flight from London to Atlanta was a simply amazing experience. I have 4.5 million air miles since 1968 and nothing like that every happened to me. I’ll be writing up a blog post about it, suffice it to say I am cheese and crackered.

    Not inviting them, nope, that can’t happen. Preventing them rabbiting the dogma/religion, that’s not going to happen.

    I’m investigating the idea of ignoring them, like you say with adverts. I have a slight problem there because I simply never watch the television because of the adverts. I do watch TV series, but I buy them from Amazon and watch ’em on the computer.

    Perhaps the above indicates a seflish inability to listen to others and a propensity for hermitism:)

    I’m thinking perhaps when the politics starts, I’ll find a reason to visit the facilities and fail to return for extended periods.

    I’m grateful for the advice, they will be here over Christmas, we’ll see how it goes.

    As to the guests wandering about the house, going through yer undie drawers…that’s just appalling, and rude. Anyone visiting my house and trying that on would get a very rude shock. I suspect I have more weapons than objets Victoria Secret in my slinkie drawers:)


    • J Holmes says:

      Hi Brendan. “more weapons than objects Victoria Secret in my slinkie drawers” Sounds like you’re ready for whatever might happen. 😉

      May you have a great Christmas regardless of what the relatives say.

  10. Julie Glover says:

    Great advice. Matzel Tov!

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