DEAR ABBY: I have come to dread family gatherings. My extended family holds a different political perspective than I. It seems like at every occasion they sit around and expound on the good points of their candidate or elected official, while belittling the opposition and ridiculing his or her supporters. I have tried on several occasions to change the subject or tell them I don't wish to discuss politics, to no avail.
Recently at a family party, I sat down with some relatives I hadn't seen in a long time in an effort to reconnect. They soon began their political bashing. I excused myself to go to the bathroom, only to discover that while I was gone they had discussed my political leanings. When I attempted to go to another room, a relative asked whom I was voting for. I said my vote was a private matter -- and the statement prompted peals of laughter in the room.
I would really like to spend time with my family, but with the elections coming up, I feel the need to avoid them. Please assist me on how to handle this. -- NO POLITICS (OR RELIGION) PLEASE, IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR NO P. OR R.: The surest way is to avoid them until all the votes are counted, after which they'll be so weary of politics that you won't be bothered again -- until the next election.