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Christmas dinner "don'ts"

December 24, 2007 - Betsy Bethel
The family's all together for Christmas — aunts and uncles; cousins of all ages, shapes and sizes; Grandma and Grandpa ... all sitting around the same table, passing the ubiquitous scalloped potatoes and crescent rolls and exchanging news about their jobs, their children, their hip replacement surgery. ...

Then, amid forkfuls of salad and sips of wine, your relative — you know, the one who you swear under your breath was dropped on his head a couple times as a baby — blusters over the clang of china and clink of crystal:

"So, Cousin, I hear you've started going to church. What, is the pastor a drunk or somethin'?"

You can hear a lace doily drop as the church-going relative musters a response. Forks quickly clank again and people cover up the embarrassing moment with talk of the weather, the roast beef, ANYTHING!

Supposedly, the dim-witted relative was just trying to be funny (you know, the preacher must be drinking if he let so-and-so through the church doors, ha ha). But you wonder: Does this relative enjoy the taste of his own foot? I mean, who OK'd his membership in the family, anyway?

Ah well, the moment passes and another holiday meal with the whole clan is now scrapbook fodder.

Will your family dinner have you singing "Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays"? Or will you drive home shaking your head and thinking Clark Griswald's old-fashioned family Christmas has nothin' on your family's catastrophic celebration?

For those of you who might need some conversation "don'ts" so your Christmas dinner is void of awkard silences and family feuds, here are some suggestions from Debra Fine, author of "The Fine Art of Small Talk," published by Hyperion.

Debra Fine's Top 10 Conversation Landmines

1. “Are you two ever going to get married?”

2. “No, thanks. I gave up drinking after I saw the toll it took on you.”

3. “When are you two going to make me a grandmother?”

4. “Cool Whip is interesting. Did you ever think of serving the real stuff instead?”

5. “Aren’t you full yet?” or "Why aren't you eating anything?"

6. “Yes, I know you're a parent. But haven't you ever thought about working?”

7. “I see you still can’t be bothered with ironing a blouse.”

8. “How is it that your son looks just like you and your daughter looks like she could be from a different family?”

9. "“Did you cook this yourself, or did you just thaw it out?”

10. “Forget this poison nonsense -- just spread the legs open and stuff it in, the way that I always do."

And a few of my own:

11. "You're STILL breastfeeding?"

12. "Go Blue!"

13. "Can't you control that kid?"

14. "Think you'll make it to next Christmas, Grandpa?"

And, of course:

15. "Is your pastor a drunk?"

Merry Christmas, readers! Follow His star!


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