Column: Handling Thanksgiving conversations

Commentary by Beverly Randolph

Question: Dear Beverly, this Thanksgiving has a heated political, economic, and religious climate plus I’m approaching 40 never married without kids.  How do I politely answer Uncle Bob’s prying questions, and what topics do you recommend?  Thanks, Peacemaker.

Dear Peacemaker, this is one of the most common asked questions; you are not alone.  It is wise to avoid any controversial topics, including political, economic and religious, and please know family worries, loves and cares for you.  If Uncle Bob persists, however, reply “I never talk about anything too personal when eating a great meal because I don’t anyone want to lose his appetite” or “I know that you love me, but I’m going to ask you to give me the day off.”  The key is to keep the response light.

One of the roles as a hostess is to encourage general conversation.  Proactively think about your guests and their recent experiences, such as where they traveled.  Other safe topics are music, bestselling books, sports, and food.  Or, start a new tradition handing out conversation starter cards asking about earliest memories, when you were a kid, what if posed questions (If you could possess one super power, which one?, What if money were no object, where would you travel? If you were a television character, who would it be?).  Laughter and insight will result.

Conversely, one of the roles as a guest is to actively participate in the meal and conversation.  This is not the time to have your phone in hand or on the table.

For all, the goal of polite conversation is to make everyone feel comfortable just as etiquette means to make others comfortable.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Do you have any other etiquette tips not mentioned above? Share them and any other etiquette questions you have.

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