Women in general, talk more than men in general. Women are generally better at it then men. If you don’t believe this, there are plenty other articles you can look at on goodmenproject.com. If you want my opinion on why I believe this, it has to do with the use of my ears.
There are many men who want to talk more at holiday gatherings, but aren’t sure what they can say and what they aren’t supposed to say. Sometimes listening to a woman’s advice can help.
I recently sat down to a Thanksgiving’s Day feast in the home of my 85-year old mother-in-law. She began the conversation at that table by stating that there were two things she would like to say. First, she related that this was the last Thanksgiving she planned on hosting. She said that this was not because she had plans on dying anytime soon. It was because it was a lot of work. She thanked those gathered for all their help with the celebration. She apologized for not always accepting help or suggestions on how to make Thanksgiving easier. She said she often enjoyed doing things her way. She let it be known that she planned to also enjoy not having the responsibility of being true to herself at future Thanksgivings.
I figured the second thing that would be said, would be a little speech about how much my mother-in-law loved everybody gathered before her. I was wrong. The second thing she had to say was that there was to be no talk allowed regarding “politics.”
This directive was greeted by chuckles, sighs of relief, and avid affirmation. This set the stage for conversations as to how much everybody loved each other and loved the latest addition to the family, a pit bull terrier puppy.
It used to be a strong Thanksgiving Day tradition in the United States that women did most of the cooking and the Alpha male of the gathering carved and passing out meat at the head of the table, followed by women doing the dishes. Men were in charge of the dining table speech making. Women lead the applause. After the eating was done, before the age of television, men would often retreat to the living room to smoke cigars and talk politics, while women gathered in the galley to scrub and polish and discuss all things interpersonal and domestic.
In modern times, men can claim the television for football viewing after having previously yielded the remote control, so women could watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.
I realize that I am stereotyping.
I realize there are as many ways, great ways, for people across the gender rainbow to celebrate or not celebrate Thanksgiving in the USA, as there are people. I am just trying to set up my main general advice to men, who have more holiday gatherings to get through. In this time of great political upheaval and revelation, getting through these gatherings in a good mood may be more challenging than ever before.
My main advice is listen to my mother-in-law. Men, don’t talk about politics. This may be hard to do, particularly if there is somebody at the gathering that has yet to hear your political rant and rave or your latest rant update. Often such people are somewhat of a captive audience. Don’t send them in the direction of where the alcohol is or out the door screaming.
Realize that as good as you think your opinion is, you probably don’t know what you are talking about. If you talk politics you are exposing yourself to counter claims that your views are based on erroneous information provided by conspiracy theorists, corporate-controlled mass media propaganda, purveyors of “fake news,” or your know-it-all uncle. You can’t win.
If you find somebody to agree with you, they may be just pretending to, in hopes that their head nods will get you to “give it a rest” more quickly.
Men, what you want to do at holiday gatherings is to enjoy friends and family and maybe make some new acquaintances. One way to do this is to spend more time listening to the views of others. If what you are into, sounds like the stupidest thing you ever heard, get interested in how a person could come to think that way, in addition to any state of intoxication.
Holiday gatherings can be just the right time to savor the “bread and circuses” which are often presented as distractions to talking serious politics.
The story goes, that Roman Empire Emperors did not like the custom of men gathering at public forums to discuss politics. Who knows what a small group of like-minded individuals who agreed that they didn’t like what was going on with their governance were capable of. Men often talk politics face-to-face, they watch circuses shoulder to shoulder. They like food and refreshing drink while watching spectacles.
Today’s circuses are pretty much what they were in Roman Empire times.
Not much difference between a gladiator and an NFL football player, other than the former not having concision protocols. Such entertainment takes up much time that men could otherwise be talking to each other, instead of yelling at a screen.
While the Roman’s handed out free bread to help keep the impoverished hungry quiet, this is done today with easy access to cheap and plentiful comfort food.
Americans have been distracted by shows and a dizzying variety of consumer goods for so long, that most don’t know what they are being distracted from. Many are about to find out. Many are about to find out that what they haven’t been paying attention to, they may find horrifying.
Good relationships with family, friends and acquaintances are going to be more important than they ever were in the coming months. More and more social gatherings will involve providing comfort to the sad and to the frightened. They will provide opportunities to receive such support.
There are many concerns in the holiday air. Feelings that big things are about to drop. So big that our old distractions won’t work. Love of family has always been a prime source of distraction from emotional distress and pain. Love, a primary key to meaningful conversation, and a root source of the courage to judiciously act.
Photo credit: Getty Images