This is the season for family gatherings – blood-related, extended, adopted, coerced or otherwise. This is also the time for mistletoes, mishaps, mess-ups, malfunctions, mismanners, and of course, sins and salvation. At many holiday tables, grudges long buried by time resurface, new girlfriends meet ex-wives, career women have it out with tai tais, and vegetarians spend the entire holiday defending their life’s choices. Who needs all this bickering? Hosts want the culture of the table to be as perfect as the turkey in the center. They want the room to be brimming with friends, loved ones and bliss-filled conversations. But in the small village of Hong Kong, we often end up with fairweather friends, one-night stand run-ins, and dubious table gossip instead. Case in point: I have a friend who openly spoke about her botched Thai boob job (complete with a show and tell) at the table. Over an otherwise fine holiday dinner, a very (very) sheltered wife of an equity trader politely, and ignorantly, asked if she could see the horns and tail of an atheist diner. I’ve witnessed sexless housewives “frolicking” in the pool with married men in front of their husbands like Car Crash TV. But one of my worst dinner conversations in recent history was a round table discussion about what colleges everyone applied to, and which ones accepted them. It pitted diner against diner, and left everyone defending his or her IQ. That one touched a raw nerve, and now I’m on speaking terms with only three of the 14 attendees, the rest I never heard from again. It used to be that sex, politics, religion and money was best left off the table. But now all those off-color conversations we leave for the bedrooms work as ice breakers at dinner parties: colonics, Hollywood waxes, bank balances, real estate holdings, red state vs. blue state, latex vs. sheep skin, “camel toes,” the best ways to die, the only ways to live, all brought up like the weather. And evenings always end on the topic of sex. The time-honored tradition of changing the subject has seemingly gone out the window to see how far we can push this donkey. And no doubt the conversations mentioned above will send shudders to Emily Post followers. But shouldn’t we be grateful this holiday season that we are all modern enough to learn from each other openly, intimately, nonjudgmentally, even if we are talking about something that seems taboo, like your grandma's bra size.