Yes, he is from Argentina, we did discuss mate, and you obviously know about their nicknaming obsession!

I do understand and support how you feel. But, you did temper your response, or so it seemed to me. I think that was the correct choice under the circumstances. You handled her and her outrageous conversation with a diplomacy she could stand to learn from you.

I had a somewhat similar experience at a Thanksgiving dinner at my house many years ago in my previous marriage. In addition to my husband’s family, who all lived locally, we invited various friends who had no family or place to be for the holiday.

We were friends with a woman from Germany whose father served in the German army in WW2. She and I often talked about the war. She was a young child during those years and she shared her stories of the hardships she and her mother and brother experienced. She never once expressed any sympathies for the Nazi beliefs or platform of hate. Later, she married a German man who was raised in Nicaragua. They would live in Nicaragua until the Sandinistas took control. She and her husband were fortunate to escape to the United States with help from his employer, a large American corporation. I always knew her to be a loving and supportive friend to me and many others, people from many countries, cultures, religions, and backgrounds.

Due to our small home, we had a variety of tables set up around the house to accommodate our many guests. My German friends were sitting at the same table as my lesbian friends, one of whom was a non-practicing Jew.

As I was making my rounds as a good hostess making sure guests at each table were eating well and conversing with one another, I paused at their table just in time to hear the German woman say she could understand Hitler’s hatred for the Jews because they were ruining Germany. I was appalled, embarrassed, horrified, flummoxed, and frozen in place. My Jewish friend tried to express her outrage but she mostly sputtered and growled. I tried to defuse the situation by telling the German woman that what she said was inappropriate and unacceptable. I ushered my Jewish friend and her partner to another table.

My German friends sat alone and quiet during the rest of the meal and left earlier than everyone else. We never spoke of the incident.

I look back now and am ashamed I didn’t do or say more, if not at the dinner then later. But, I didn’t. As a hostess, I felt my duty was to maintain enjoyable and civil exchanges between guests. To make a huge deal out of a comment only heard by four people would have made everyone uncomfortable and most likely would have ruined our holiday. But was the meal worth the price of dignity and truth? Did I do enough or way too little? I was plagued by that question for a long time and by the fact that I continued my friendship with the German woman. I’ve never been able to reconcile my strongly held beliefs with the fact that we remained friends.

Lessons learned? Sometimes defusing a situation is better than stoking the flames. Sometimes I was too weak and afraid to do what I knew was right.

Today, I believe I would handle the situation at the table in a similar manner but I would definitely address my friend about her outrageous and hateful comment and terminate our friendship. Age has made me braver in many ways. I don’t compromise on the big issues anymore. I speak my truth with a boldness I lacked in my youth.

But, still, my cheeks flush with embarrassment when I think of that Thanksgiving. I am glad you won’t have to carry the feeling of guilt and complicity that I did.

I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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