The holiday season is always difficult for everyone except for children. Parents, aunts and uncles rush about to buy last minute gifts. The chef in the family is called upon to create a feast that will make the last Thanksgiving dinner look like a microwave meal. People show up on your doorstep with inappropriate piercings or unannounced partners or children with unknown parentage without warning. And then there is the extensive traveling.
Too much food + too many people + tactlessness + not enough gifts = nightmare.
You can save the day by being the perfect guest or host! Avoid asking these questions:
1. When are you getting married?
I could achieve world peace, and people would still say, “oh, that’s great love. Are you seeing anybody special?”
Firstly, not everyone wants to get married. Some people are genuinely happy being single. Secondly, for those who want to get married, this question makes them feel like they are failures. Also, it forces the single person to come up with some sort of explanation for why s/he hasn’t “settled down” yet. (This concept is ALSO ridiculous, because you can be settled without getting married.)
Unfortunately, unmarried couples also get this question. Leave them be. This creates a ridiculous amount of tension, especially if one person in the relationship really, really wants to get married, and the other one is still cagey about it. Do you want a fight over the Christmas ham?
Just don’t ask.
2. When are you having children?
Oh dear. This question is lobbed at every couple who just got married 2 minutes ago. Leave them be. It hints at the possibility that “something is wrong”, either with the sex life of the couple, or with their ability to have biological children, or their financial ability to adopt.
Do you want someone to burst into tears over the turkey?
Just don’t ask.
3. When are you going home for the holidays?
This question seems innocuous, but it can be annoying for adults who have worked really hard at creating a home that is separate from their family home. Even if they were born and raised in Oklahoma, their new home might be in California. Also, if they don’t have a family to celebrate with, this question might trigger a sense of loss. A better question would be “how will you celebrate during the holidays?” or “do you have any plans for this season?”
4. When are you graduating?/When will you get a job?
I’ve covered this before. If you’re speaking to an academic, just don’t ask. This is a little vacation for them. They don’t want to be reminded of their dissertation or their committee. If you do ask this question, you might be treated to a full lecture on their dissertation research. The food WILL go cold.
5. How is your ex?/How is your baby’s father/mother?
Are you kidding me? You must want to start some Love and Hip Hop drama. These questions are best left for quiet heart to hearts at tea, or at some random sporting event. If the person wants to talk about his/her ex, s/he will. Otherwise, quietly assume that that person has moved on and is happy, either by him/herself, or with a new partner. When people ask this question, they usually just want to be entertained.
6. What are you going to do about your weight?/Did you eat all of that by yourself?
Just don’t. I mean, really? You’re going to make an amazing dinner and then point out how much people are pigging out at the table? Never loudly proclaim the food choices of a person at your dinner table. Don’t point out the fact that they are going back for fourths and had to unbutton their pants. Let. it. go.
If people ask you these questions, remember that they can’t help themselves, because you are so amazing that they NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU. You are a mini-celebrity.
If you get any of these questions, respond as if you are royalty, and offering personal information about yourself is a benevolent act. Be kind and vaguely dismissive.