Last month was my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. In their honor, my brother and I invited their siblings, nieces and nephews in for a party this last weekend. We ended up with a couple dozen folks making the trek from both coasts to Illinois.
The way my brother and I approach planning is to lay out a plan and then mentally walk through it and figure out what can go wrong. We then plan contingencies for as much as we can.
On our possible problem list: having to pay for rooms that folks booked but didn't use, getting treatment for anyone who got sick while they were there, and whether the weather would cooperate with those who wanted to golf, which it didn't because between spectacular lightening storms, it was muggy and gross. But really none of those concerns were on the top of our worry list.
That spot was reserved for politics and the "discussion" thereof.
The larger portion of my family are liberal Democrat, say 90%. In much smaller proportion, are the conservative Republicans, say 8%. There are a couple of Independents thrown in for good measure.
Typically the siblings call each other, argue politics, and then hang up on each other once everyone's good and offended. The difficulty here was that they'd be in the same hotel and you can't hang up on someone in person.
So we assigned our oldest to walk around with the most vocal of the Republicans, being young and, in his words, "malleable." It was a divide and distract strategy. I spoke to the most vocal of the bunch (there were several) and told them no politics.
My one aunt (a Democrat) said she wouldn't talk politics, and one of my uncles (a Republican) not only said he wouldn't talk politics, but said he wouldn't talk religion, either. But those were political promises, and here's how they turned out...
My brother picked my aunt up at the airport Friday and she made it a grand total of six, count them, six, minutes before she asked his political affiliation. My uncle waited for a total of ten minutes after assuring me, in person with a straight face, that he knew what not to talk about, before he began talking politics. Ten minutes - 600 seconds of restraint.
Blessedly, what I had not planned on in my list of worries and contingencies was that everyone is unhappy with them all. How great is that - something to he thankful for in this mess!
When I tried to settle things by saying that they're all at fault - a statement that is usually true but most folks want to blame only one party - there was actually agreement. When I pointed out that we've been raising the debt ceiling continuously since the mid 70s, with both Republican and Democrat congresses and presidents, there was agreement.
At the formal dinner on Saturday evening, we had a conversation at our table that included both religion and politics, and no one used their steak knives for anything other than their steaks.
Who'd'a thunk it? The fact that no one is happy with the Congress and/or the President was actually good for something.
All kidding aside, I'm attributing how well the whole thing went to the prayers of my friends and the ladies of the Monday Morning Bible Study, because the fact that no one ended up storming from the room or going to the hospital was a miracle of God. Which is what it'll take to solve the debt ceiling issue.