Home for the Holidays
"Forget the idea that you can win any dispute" is the next bit of advice. True that. Your elders know what they know and they have zero interest in changing their most deeply held opinions. If it is the wisdom of the dinner table that Kelly Ripa's new partner, Ryan Seacrest, is a nice enough boy, but he'll never be another Regis, go with the flow.
In this case, they might be right.
"Don't imagine you can avoid the conversational spotlight" are Lingren's famous last words on the subject. While you've been out in the world, hobnobbing with the beautiful people, the family has been stuck at home, picking and nipping on each others' cases for last 12 months. They're sick and tired of on trying to change people who are close at hand. You, on the other hand, are what columnist Lingren calls "fresh meat."
And for all you fresh meat, she recommends that before you go home, you do your homework.
"Review the lineup of guests," she advises. Your relatives have likely been texting and tweeting themselves. Look back through the year of family emails you have ignored. If you can't find anything warm and wonderful about each guest, maybe you can dredge up some dark and shameful gossip you can launch as a deterrent over the nacho cat cheese balls.
"Think about other people's careers." If you don't want to go negative, make positive comments that can shift the focus when the table full of vultures looks ready to strike. "Tell us about the time when you and Samuel Morse invented the telegraph, Uncle Morty," you might say. "Do you feel that your business got the support it needed from President Lincoln?"
Don't be deterred by the fact that Uncle Morty is in his 40s. Old-timers love it when you remind them that they're decrepit and out of touch.
"Figure out something positive to say about your work life." Share your triumphs with all the guests, like all the time you screwed up big time and were sure you were going to be fired, but managed to wriggle out of it by blaming a completely innocent co-worker for your blunder, and she got fired, instead.
Life-affirming stories with happy endings perfectly fit the holiday season, don't you agree?
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.