(Start with "Monday" if you can. Read a day at a time. It's a good way to get a break from the relatives. Every half hour or so, tell them you have a stomach cramp and slip out of the living room and into their computer chair. You'll send a wave of panic through your family as they realize the implications of someone hogging the toilet on this day of all days.) So, what were we talking about? Oh right. Keeping your spouse close by for the entire Thanksgiving hellfest. There is strength in numbers. And if someone asks you an embarrassing question, you can just shove him in front of you to deflect it.
"Helen, you're not doing any of those fertility treatment thingys are you?..."Dave? Where did Helen just go? I could swear she was just standing right there, where you are now."
I also think, there are still in 2010 some things people won't say in mixed company. This can definitely work in your favor. Women probably won't mention your menstrual while your husband's around.
Just like, when you're in the vicinity, men probably won't bring up their highly scientific theory on the culprit behind your husband's fatherhood issues: That time in 1989 when they all went to the beach during spring break and your husband sat on the scorching hot sand with a way too short speedo.
So, if you're a man and a woman together at this function, you've got it covered as long as you hang together. If you're a same sex couple... hopefully just showing up together still freaks out the most annoying of your relatives enough that they'll never even get around to bothering you about the trying to conceive part. Hold hands a lot and gaze into each other's eyes lovingly if you have to.
For everybody: When you sit down to dinner, choose your seat wisely. Don't be the first to sit down at the table. You'll be stuck with whomever sits down next to you.
What happens if it's your aunt who whips out a newspaper clipping on endometriosis she's been carrying around in her purse since July 4th when you dodged her at the family barbecue?
If somehow this does happen, however, don't despair. Simply get up, go do something (get a spoon, read more of my blog...whichever), then return to the table and "absent-mindedly" sit in the wrong seat.
You don't have to sit next to your spouse, but you should definitely be within deflection distance of each other. And both of you need to keep your ears perked up for key danger words. For example:
Aunt with the article in the purse sits next to you, and in between stuffing stuffing into her teeth and unwedging it with the back of a matchbook, she tilts in your direction. You're not sure what she's about to do. She could either be internally rearranging the four glasses of club soda she chugged, or worse: She's about to talk to you. You hold your breath waiting to see out of which end the noise will emerge.
Your husband appears to be immersed in his slab of cranberry sauce, trying to decide what is proper Thanksgiving dinner etiquette: To turn it can imprint side down before tackling it or leave it as served. But his ears are wide open and zoning in on your aunt like he's the Bionic Woman.
And she speaks to you:
"Oh (okay, the word "oh" seems fine.)
"did I mention" (no objection so far)
"that my neighbor's daughter" (Warning: Lights begin to flash. I know my aunt. She wouldn't be telling me about this girl I never met unless she's either having a baby or is a prostitute.)
"is" (Husband reaches for nearest bowl.)
"Peas?! Aunt Yenta, do you want peas? Does anyone at this table want peas? How about down there? How about you? How about you? How about you?"
Deflection. That's the name of the game. It's not really a family dinner. It's fricken air hockey.
Listen, I gotta go before the tryptophan kicks in and I fall asleep on my keyboard.
I'll talk with ya again tomorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr