A Guide to Conversations Around the Southern Holiday Table


1. Talking about people from church. Usually the Grandparents at the table get the ball rolling on this one. These are the conversations where everyone at the table needs a pen and pad of paper so they can keep track of all of the intertwining family trees. The subjects are never under any circumstance mentioned by more than their first name. No action ever actually takes place in these stories. On rare occasions, we find that we're distantly related to someone we don't particularly care for. Related Topics: people who have passed away recently; entire life updates about the grandchildren of grandparent's friends who nobody else at the table has ever met, highlights from recent trips to Kroger.

2. Talking about what we're going to eat next. It's unreal, but somehow we always find a way to talk about what our next meal will be while sitting in front of the biggest, most delicious meal we'll eat all year. Related Topics: how we "couldn't possibly eat another bite"; what we're having for dessert; did Grandma make the beloved jello that has pretzels in the bottom; who needs more wine.

3. Talking about "that one time when". In Southern families, there are a rotation of usually no more than six stories that are told every single holiday. The punchline of these stories is almost always that the Grandmother unaplogetically had (or has) a clear favorite child. Related Topics: sibling rivalries; crazy relatives; family secrets.

4. Talking about who made what. It's never enough for us to simply have green bean casserole, it has to be "Aunt Dea's Green Bean Casserole". Whether or not Aunt Dea found the recipe in a Southern Living twenty years ago, from the moment she writes it on her own recipe card, its hers- end of story. The logic here may be a little hairy, but all is fair when it comes to Holiday food. Related Topics: the unsuspecting vegetarian cousin who is happily enjoying the green beans that were cooked in ham fat for no less than three hours; how one relative "lightened up" her famous pie by using one-and-a-half sticks of butter instead of two; jokes about how the salad was a waste of space and time.

5. Avoiding talking about Politics. Let's just politely agree to disagree. Related Topics: the weather; one cousin's recent study abroad, more conversation about the food; how the youngest nephew is enjoying his first semester at USC.