Instruction manuals for people would be an ideal holiday gift

Thanksgiving has come and gone and Boulder City officially kicked off the holiday season with a flurry of activities this past weekend.

The remainder of the year will be filled parties, office gatherings, get togethers with friends and family celebrations where we will be interacting with people we often only see once or twice a year.

Each person comes with his or her own idiosyncrasies. There’s that sweet but kinda crazy old aunt who insists on pinching your cheeks no matter how old you get. The uncle who has one too many sips of his favorite spirit and falls asleep in the comfy recliner. The sibling you have never gotten along with. The parent who has overly high expectations of how you should live your life.

If this sounds like the movie plot from a comedy or drama, you might very well be right. Except that it is often reality.

I clearly remember one holiday meal where both my mother and father’s sides of the family were invited to gather for dinner. It was a big deal because of very obvious differences in basic philosophies of life.

Since our dining room table was too small, we used the pingpong table — net and all — for the meal. Each side of the family faced off against the other, physically separated to prevent any issues. It seemed like the perfect solution.

It worked for that one meal, but what do you do in other situations?

In this season of do-it-yourself projects and having to put together gifts for kiddies to find under the Christmas tree, I’ve always wished that people came with instruction manuals, too. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

These manuals would offer all sorts of tips and helpful hints. For example, it would tell you how to keep your cheeks out of arm’s reach of your kindly aunt. Solutions might be a quick trip to the kitchen to help carve the holiday ham or reaching down to tie your shoe suddenly.

I also would expect to find suggestions for topic changers when the conversation got a little too heated or into territory you didn’t want to discuss.

Naturally, there would be chapters for situations other than family visits and holiday parties. There would be instructions for how to best celebrate a birthday, how not to hurt feelings when making vacation plans or choosing where to go to dinner or what movie to see.

And these manuals would be extremely helpful for people you see on a regular basis, as well. Can you imagine how grateful parents would be if their babies arrived with instructions for the next 18 or so years?

Imagine being offered lessons on how to deal with temper tantrums during the Terrible 2s or getting a list of ways to cope with teenagers trying to assert their independence. Having this at my disposal would be indispensable.

For now, though, we will just have to settle with dealing with delicate situations the best we can. But if I’m lucky, perhaps I will find just such a present this holiday season.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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