Our sister who's hosting Thanksgiving dinner just texted all the guests a directive: "No talking politics when we get together for the holiday."
She's trying to head off heated discussions because, two weeks postelection, people still haven't cooled off. You think you know people, but you don't know whom they voted for. And when you find out, you're mad at them.
We'll be able to abide by the no-politics request because we've been avoiding sensitive subjects at family gatherings for years. We don't ask Cousin Louise if she finally got her promotion. We don't ask our sister's friends if their son is still living in their basement.
Apparently, we're not alone in avoiding the big, touchy questions. It's a big enough problem that it warranted a solution because you can buy a T-shirt that reads, "No, I don't have a boyfriend. I haven't declared a major yet. I'll let you know when I get a job."
We've ordered five of these shirts for our college-age children and their friends who are tired of answering the same old questions from relatives who mean well but can't help asking.
We've read the T-shirt so we know enough not to ask our niece if she has a new boyfriend, but we might dance around the subject and ask her if she knows about the Coffee Meets Bagel dating app.
We wouldn't ask the young people if they've heard anything back from their on-campus job interviews. That's too much pressure. However, we could tell them that we read an interesting article about Information Security Analysts. It pays well, you only need a bachelor's degree, and the field is expected to grow by 30 percent in the next five years.
We've warned our husbands not to ask the newlyweds when they are planning to start a family, but we really want to know if we should buy a Baby Exersaucer on Black Friday or wait a couple of years. So we might say, "Are you going to need to trade in your Mini Cooper for a bigger car any time soon?"
Our nephew will be bringing his adorable toddler to dinner. We won't ask him how the all-natural elimination communication toilet training is going. We'll just peek at the back of the toddler's outfit. If we see that he's wearing a puffy pull-up diaper, we'll remind his dad of the old parenting axiom: "No matter how hopeless toilet training seems, don't worry. He won't get married in diapers."
We know that Aunt Minnie and Uncle Sid don't want to move out of their sprawling five-bedroom home filled with a lifetime of tchotchkes, so we won't ask how they are managing with two flights of stairs and their washing machine down in the basement. Instead we'll give them the magazine ad for the brand-new 55+++ development at Pleasant Hills that's taking deposits now.
When our dinner host said "no politics," we tried to think of other safe topics to talk about, but we realized that any topic could be a minefield. A simple "Did you watch the Eagles game last Sunday" will likely bring out armchair quarterbacks, lifelong Redskins fans, and people who will tell you that they know how to manage the clock better than the coach.
If we comment that "We've been so lucky with this warm November weather" it could be an invitation to those around the table who want to remind us that this warm weather is due to the deadly effects of global warming.
You know what's safe? Keeping ours mouths filled with delicious food so we can't talk. "Pass the bowl of stuffing please, we want just a little bit more."
We want to make sure that we'll still fit into our pantsuit.