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Friday, March 3, 2017



     Due to the vagaries of newspaper deadlines, I fear this column will be published too late to help many of you navigate the treacherous waters of Holiday entertaining. So this is for those of you who are celebrating a late Thanksgiving. It's going to be tricky this year, especially since you didn't know that Aunt Millie voted for Trump. The whole rest of the family is likely to gang up against her in a loud shouting match even before the Pillsbury rolls come out of the oven. Here's the thing to remember: Aunt Millie brought the pie, and if she gets too worked up and leaves before dessert, we ALL lose. So I'm going to go over some simple rules that you can use to preserve the complicated bonds that hold families together in their tenuous orbit.

     First, think in advance of the possible land mines that might go off, based on past experience, and prepare for the worst. All sharp objects should be removed from the table. Dinner rolls should be rounded at the corners. No containers of liquid over four ounces should be admitted into the home. All luggage and bags should be checked for weapons, including nail clippers and scissors. If you have a metal detector or full-body scanner, this might be the time to get it out of the closet.

     Second, beware of triggers that could set off an argument. For instance, carrots are orange, and that could remind your daughter of you-know-who. If you happen to be wealthy enough to employ kitchen staff, maybe give your private server the day off to avoid any snide comments.

     Third, have some other topics of conversation ready to go. One possibility is the weather. "So Mom, how is the weather up by you?" You could ask. "Same as you, I live one mile away," she replies. "Yes, but you're in Heritage Hills, so doesn't the altitude there affect the weather?" You counter. "I'll tell you what affects the weather," she says. "Climate change. Did you know Trump doesn't believe in it?" Okay, that was a test. Emergency evasive action is needed.

     You could talk about the food itself. Compliment the chef. "Wow! That corn is expertly microwaved!" Or, "That stuffing is delicious. I think I taste a hint of either dill or part of a plastic bag." Don't say, "That gravy is awfully thin, like Hillary Clinton's lame excuses." That's going to start something only the Electoral College can finish.

     My wife emailed me a Home Handyman article on how to use your power drill for food preparation, so I'm going to use that as a "safe topic." I'm not lying about this, and I'll send you the article if you want. For instance, you put a spade bit in the drill and poke it into an apple, and as it's spinning round and round you put the peeler to it, and go through 10 apples in 20 seconds. Boom! You have all the apples for your pie, which tastes a little like birch veneer plywood, since I forgot to clean the spade bit.

     After the meal, go for a walk, that's what we always do, and it's a healing experience. When you get to the end of the driveway, in what direction are we going? Are we leaning toward the left or to the right? Maybe a walk is not a good idea.

     These dust-ups have been going on since the very first Thanksgiving, and even way before that, when Adam voted Republican, Eve was a Democrat and the snake voted for Gary Johnson. So it's nothing new, and now that we've finished arguing about the future of the country, maybe next year maybe we can get back to arguing about the things that really matter, like why the Mets suck and the Yankees rule.

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