Manners Matter: Meeting the Family

Dear Mary Pat,

I’m going to be visiting my boyfriend’s family for Christmas this year. I’m a little nervous since it’s the first time I’m meeting them and I don’t celebrate Christmas since I’m Jewish. We’ve been dating for eight months and this wasn’t on my radar until last week when his mom extended the invite to include me. Is it rude if I don’t go to midnight mass with them? Do I need to bring gifts for his brothers and sister too? Any tips you have would be appreciated since my boyfriend hasn’t given me a lot to go on.


A Little Apprehensive

Little Sturgeon, Wis.


Dear A Little Apprehensive,

Of course you’re a little nervous about meeting his family but your best bet is to be yourself. There will be lots of activity going on with the whole family around so they won’t be solely focused on you.

It would be nice if you brought a small hostess gift when you arrive just as you would if you were attending a dinner party.

You are not expected to bring gifts for the entire family. If his family gives you a Christmas present you can graciously accept it as I’m sure it would be a way to include you in the festivities. All the gift giving is secular anyway.

You should only attend mass if you’re comfortable doing so. You wouldn’t take communion and you could go as an observer versus an active participant. If this man is someone you see a future with, then this will just be the first step in trying to balance your two backgrounds and faiths together.

Happy Chanukah!

Mary Pat

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