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.”
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
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. 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.