Mouse Words Holiday Guide
From someone whose family is loud-mouthed and mostly voted for Bush, so I know of which I speak.
- If staying overnight at someone's house, bring your own blankets. No two people have the same taste in blankets and using someone else's overnight will make it hard to sleep.
- Board games are the perfect way to funnel out all that family aggression into healthy competition. But you have to be selective about which games. I like Trivial Pursuit, since I am a trivia nerd. But this is precisely why everyone else hates it. This year I am bringing the 20th anniversay edition, which only has questions from the last 20 years, so everyone can feel like an insufferable know-it-all.
- Know who your allies are--people you know who will rescue from mindless hours of football, etc. Make sure to subtly align yourself with your allies early on by taking their side when the rest of the family teases them.
- Have a buddy, like they do in AA, to keep you from falling off the political bandwagon and engaging in debates with relatives. Mine is my sister. Our politics are not like each others, but nor are they like anyone else's in the family. We've got each other's back in the subject-changing department.
- For vegetarians who get teased about this, there are a number of strategies to deflect criticism and change the subject. You have to feel this one out. Regardless of the strategy, a somewhat apologetic tone is required, like implying that vegetarianism is nothing more than a fad diet like the Atkins diet, so your relative can wonder if you're feeble-minded or a genius, giving you time to escape. Under no circumstances do you cite opposition to animal cruelty, especially to middle-aged Texas football fans. Basically, avoid the high-minded reasons and pretend you are just eccentric.
- When grilled about why in the hell you voted for John Kerry, there's a slightly different tactic to use. Conservatives cannot argue with the doctrine of Self-Interest, so come up with a very specific, albeit very important, reason you had to vote for Kerry that is self-interested. Think of it ahead of time, deliver your reason in a shucks-that's-how-it-is tone, and most importantly, never waver, even in the wording. Use the Shrub's tactics. Since it got their votes it should win your peace. Young men merely have to say that they are afraid of the draft. They'll try to argue with you, so channel the Shrub and meet every argument with, "Yeah, but I don't want to be drafted," regardless of what they said. There are plenty. "I want an FHA loan to buy a house." "I work for the government." "I drive too far for gas prices to go up." It doesn't have to make sense as long as you're consistent. My story is that I work in financial aid and if they cut all federal financial aid to college students, I won't have a job. End of story.
- However, if they are especially persistent, whip out Shrubian tactic #2--the non sequiter that shames the questioner. I plan to answer all persistent inquiries with, "Well, I just trust somehow who actually fought in Vietnam." Rinse and repeat until they give up, because the only thing they can say to that is they trust someone who didn't fight better.
- Don't ever volunteer to mash the potatoes. In fact, if you're not drafted to cook, a dishtowel is your best bet. Young men especially are good candidates for volunteering for dish duty. In most families, you will be crowned Hero of the Year for pitching in when the older men retreat to watch TV.
- Admittance to the grown-up table should be doled out by age, and not marital status, whether someone has had children or by sex. Too bad my ruling has no authority behind it. Granted, I'm biased because I'm the oldest grandchild, but still. If I'm ever told again to sacrifice my spot at the grown-up table to someone younger simply because that person has had children and I haven't, I will point out that if I wanted to hang out with a bunch of kids, I would have had them.
- Eat some dessert. Don't be a spoilsport. Unless of course, you have some sort of medical condition. A diet doesn't count.
Well, these are my rules, and I hope they amused you or gave you some ideas for surviving your own Christmas with relatives!