Manners Matter: Dec. 11, 2015

By Mary Pat

Dear Mary Pat,

The holiday season is in full swing with Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas only weeks away. For Thanksgiving this year, my family went on a short trip. We all had off from jobs and school, and had a lovely time. Prior to the trip, we encountered a flurry of questions from friends, family and acquaintances regarding whether or not we were going to celebrate on an alternate day with family. We were not and did not think much about it. The questions continued, as these folks asked about Christmas. We celebrate with some of the family members, but choose to keep our distance from other family members. We don’t advertise this decision, but several of the questioners pried. One even went so far as to scold that “you will regret not including so­and­so, as you never know if this might be their last Christmas.” And, “Family is everything.”

Our choice to stay away from certain family members is a personal, healthy, good choice for us. It has enabled us to focus on the folks we can benefit and whom can benefit us. It really is of no concern to these prying people. Mary Pat, what is a polite yet pointed response to these rude folks? I want to tell them to “mind your own business,” but I have trouble with that. Any suggestions?


Happy for the Holidays

Valmy, Wis.



Dear Happy For the Holidays,

As any police officer working on Thanksgiving or Christmas will tell you that just because you’re related to someone, doesn’t mean you necessarily should spend the holidays together. Certain family dynamics are complicated and it is better if some people don’t get together for any reason, least of all turkey. Families who don’t know how to get along in June aren’t going to do much better this time of year, especially if tongues are loosened by some holiday cheer. Don’t get me wrong, you should always try to repair relationships and forgive family even if they’ve hurt you. However, forcing groups to get together and all behave is a tall order. One-on-one is usually better for talking things out.

Honest and direct is always the best way to approach a situation while still keeping things light. You don’t need to say “mind your own business” in so many words. No further explanation is needed than “we wanted to get away.” They will either accept that or not which you don’t have to worry about. The same goes for your Christmas plans. Just go about your business and don’t pay any attention to what the others are saying. If there is a situation that needs to be resolved with your family, I would encourage you to try to work it out…just not at the Christmas dinner table.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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