My brother was telling me that we should establish rules for family parties. Like – hey, I was talking here – not interrupting.

He suggests that we conduct ourselves the way we would at a self-help group. Each person could speak their piece without any cross talk – the cork screw is in the drawer next to the stove. Sure, this sounds more like a seminar than a party but I know a family that actually does this.

Does anyone else want to talk to Aunt Liz? OK, thanks for calling.

Anyway, this family they sit around and each person gets to talk about whatever they want, without fear of – it’s not there? Try the drawer next to the fridge. There’s no cross talk or interjections and it’s a very satisfying way to communicate.

Now, personally, I’m accustomed to – oh yeah, I saw your pictures they’re great – rough and tumble conversation. It doesn’t bother me when I’m cut off, talked over, or the topic changes before I can – wait, I didn’t say I’ll miss Gerald Ford more than James Brown. But some family members feel like they’re not being heard.

It’s like that song “Talk” by Coldplay – coffee? I don’t know, is it decaf? – It’s about a brother trying to talk to another brother. The singer says, “I’m so scared about the future and I want to talk to you.” What? No, I’m just talking about a song I like.

It’s like he’s at a family table and “they’re talking in a language I don’t speak.” He feels like a puzzle that can’t find – I give up, just push the cork in with a knife – that can’t find his missing piece. He’ll tell anyone who asks that he feels ignored.

What? I don’t know if that’s your glass, it’s not mine. So, out of consideration for those who feel like they’re being trampled conversationally at family parties, here are a few suggestions.

Wait a second – don’t bring that up again. There’s a statute of limitations on bringing up embarrassing stories. What? Yeah, it’s seven years, so I don’t want to hear about how I drowned the family car 30 years ago.

So, here are the rules for the next family party: no monologues, unless they’re really funny; – yeah, sure I’ll try one, I love coconut – more questions, fewer personal stories; no correcting speech or grammar unless absolutely necessary; – oh, you guys are going? Yeah, I know, work – I had some more rules but I just lost my train of thought. We may even try the sharing seminar and get to know each other after all these years. Pie? Sure.