Skip These Questions At The Holiday Dinner Table

Young adult women servicing table for Christmas dinner
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Ah, yes, holiday dinner with the fam. Even in families far less dysfunctional than — oh, I don't know — mine, such festive occasions can be a recipe for disaster. This holds especially true if the familial faces flanking you can help but to ask questions you shouldn't ask women around the holiday dinner table. Clearly, the memo never made it around to all of the nosy relatives of the world, given the fact that we're here having this conversation now.

Let's give them the benefit of the doubt, though. Perhaps they know not what they do. The expression "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" springs to mind. Personally, I've fallen victim to many of these questions at more than a few holiday gatherings, and I'm fairly certain the people doing the asking truly believe they are coming from a place of care and concern. That's why it's important to speak up and start dialogue about why certain insensitive — and at times downright rude — questions are perpetually lobbed at women who just want to eat their turkey and cornbread dressing in piece, thank you very much.

In the spirit of disclosure then, take note: here are the things we women are tired of being asked around the holiday dinner table. Feel free to pass it (and the green bean casserole!) along.

"Are You Still Single?"

I don't know; are you? How is this relevant? Do "singles" have to sit at the kid's table? No? Then stahhhp asking this. It bears no relevance, and it could be a trigger for negative emotions. Do the women in your family and a favor and let them enjoy their holiday meal without a side of repressed anguish, please and thank you.

"Don't You Want Kids?"

If you do answer No. 1 and that answer is no, prepare for this question — especially if you are over 25. Newsflash, people: Some people choose to have children later in life; some women don't want to have kids at all; and either option is A-OK. Not to mention, how awkward is it going to be when they say "no?"

"When Are You Going To Settle Down?"

Words don't adequately describe how much I hate this expression. My husband and I were married for nearly nine years before we started a family, and it was a constant at holidays. The definition of "settle" is "to adopt a more steady or secure style of life." What does that even mean, y'all? It's all so arbitrary. Life can look a lot of different ways to a lot of different people. My idea of steady and secure might be vastly different than yours. Why do any of us have to "settle" for or into anything?

"What Did You Do To Your Hair?"

I mean, if you're asking the question, you probably already know that said hair has been changed. By phrasing it this way — which is oh so popular — the implication is that you don't approve. Since I don't need your approval for decisions I make about my own hair, I'll just ignore the question and ask you to send the potatoes my way.

"How Much Did You Pay For Your [Insert Any Major Purchase]?"

If you recently bought a house, car, or any other big-ticket item that your relatives (or friends or whomever is hosting you) have caught wind of, they may decide to get a little cheeky and ask you to reveal the purchase price. But talking about money at the dinner table isn't just off-putting, it's really rather inappropriate. It's none of anyone's business how much you spent on something, and unless they're a secret benefactor planning to cut you a check to make up for the amount, nothing is gained from telling them.

"How Can You Afford That?"

Let's say you recently got back from a vacation abroad or showed up to the holiday gathering with a brand new designer handbag. Enter this pretentious question. Much like asking someone how much they paid for something, asking them how they can afford an item perceived as above their budget is not exactly fodder for the dinner table. And what, like they know exactly how much you make or how you handle your budget? Unless they are accountants and have processed your tax returns, they are making simple assumptions based on pre-conceived judgments about your lifestyle or career choice. If you want to change the convo, you could always bring up the fact that it's amazing you can afford anything at all, considering women still make a percentage of that which our white, male counterparts make.

"When Are You Going To Get A Real Job?"

To be a writer — especially a freelance writer — is to hear this question often. Any creative field is subject to the same scrutiny, but it doesn't stop there. Everyone has their own ideas about what constitutes a "real job," so no one is really ever safe from this barb. Suffice it to say, though, that if someone has a job and it's paying her bills, that's real enough for her.

"Aren't You Getting A Little Old For That?"

Ladies and gentleman, ageism at its finest. If someone could print out a field guide for when certain jobs, roles, remedial tasks, outfits, and language become unacceptable for a woman, that would be super. Otherwise, how in the heck are we supposed to know when we cross the invisible age threshold that makes us "too old" for something? Oh wait, we can't. BECAUSE IT DOESN'T EXIST.

"Who Did You Vote For?"

I suspect this will be a big topic around the holiday dinner table in 2016. Granted, it goes both ways; we should all respect each other's right to privacy where voting is concerned. If you are loud and proud of your candidate, by all means, share away! But you shouldn't be made to feel like you have to, and that is already happening before voting even closes — women are being asked to continually qualify and justify why they are voting for Hillary Clinton. Then, when they try to explain, they are either mansplained to submission or simply spoken over until they get up and walk away. Which is precisely why politics (especially in a year as volatile as this one) and holiday dinner don't mix.

"You Could Probably Do Without Dessert, Eh?"

'Scuse me? This may be a coded way of saying I've gained weight, but — FYI to anyone who asks this — you suck at subtlety. Weight should be a non-issue around the holiday dinner table, a time for celebrating and enjoying each other's company — and any time. Pass your judgment in silence, if you must do it at all. Not your body, not your business.

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