The family begins to gather. First, the child from out-of-town, then the children who live close by, the older grandkids, the aunt, the babies, a neighbor, a few friends, a dog or two (couldn’t find a keeper) and suddenly, it’s Christmas! And the festivities begin.
Let there be armfuls of packages, overstuffed bellies, crackling fires, joyful singing, lots of laughter, game playing and couch napping. Let there be peace on earth, re-runs of It’s a wonderful life, and harmony in our home. That’s the plan. That’s my goal. There may be a grandchild or two that has to spend a little bit of time-out on the stairs or a dog that may need to be put in his kennel to get us there, but we will have tranquility in this house. I am declaring a temporary nix on all unintended little jabs that quickly escalate into hurt feelings or wounded pride. I’m also tabling the myriad of discussions that could arouse a little too much passion from an incredibly passionate family. Why? Because I’m the mom and it’s Christmas. We can get back to those inflammatory subjects another day. My mother mandate for Christmas 2016 is: GOOD WILL WILL FLOW
Taking a cue from the way certain political figures field challenging questions, our family now has a brilliant strategy – don’t respond at all to something you’d rather avoid, just simply change subject. We invoke state capitals as our diversion tactic. For example:
Auntie, “Have you thought of giving your child less sugar?”
Son, “What’s the capital of Vermont?”
Someone else, “No, Montpelier.”
The rest of us pick up the game, dropping the potentially toxic conversation. Voila, crisis avoided!
We actually tried this at our last family gathering. One would think that our Thanksgiving was a scene straight out of Pleasantville. Perhaps it was a bit too nice and a tad less colorful than previous holidays so I briefly consider lifting the good will mandate. Quickly evaluating probable conversations that might occur over eggnog, I envision, “Can you believe the President Elects choice for Secretary of State?”
My knee-jerk reaction, “what’s the capitol of North Dakota?”