Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tips for a Polite Christmas and Beyond

Hello Polite Readers!

Well, when I decided to restart this blog I didn't think about the fact that my columns would fall on two holidays in a row. For today and New Years Day I'll have a couple of themed columns and then it's back to answering your letters!

Before we get started, a little note to my fellow non-Christmas-celebrating readers: Hello. I know, I know. Christmas. Ugh. What are you gonna do? I've been counting down the days until I wouldn't have to hear "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" or "Santa Baby" again, and here I am contributing to the problem. But I think we can all agree that the dreaded C-Day brings out some bad behavior in people, so let's politely help them behave.

Here's a few tips to stay cool and polite this Christmas, inspired by past columns and real-life experience.

1. Be thankful for any gifts you receive, no matter how tacky or otherwise inappropriate they might be. You can dispose of them later, but in front of the gift-giver, be the very image of gratitude.

2. Be prepared to dodge awkward conversations. If you know ahead of time that you're going to have to deal with people whose religious or political beliefs are opposite yours, or who think they have the right to comment negatively on your relationships, reproductive choices, or physical appearance, pre-plan some firm but polite responses, and good ways to change the subject to more neutral ground.

3. Be ready to compromise. We don't usually get to do exactly what we want for the holidays. You may need to be gracious about accommodating extra guests, eating less than fabulous food, or watching sports or schmaltzy Christmas movies that you don't particularly like.

4. Be firm but polite about your boundaries. You do not need to let your creepy uncle hug you, you do not have to eat the food you're allergic to, you do not have to get drawn into a conversation about how the guy you voted for in the last election is an idiot.

5. Be generous however you can. Give thoughtful gifts. Bring something delicious to the potluck. Bring a hostess gift. Donate to charity. Be free with the compliments. Help with clean-up.

6. And remember, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, whatever you say, the thought behind it should be the same "I hope you have a good day whatever you celebrate."

See you in 2014! In the meantime, you can always drop me a line at with your questions about civil discourse.