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C-SPAN mom on getting along at the holidays: ‘I don’t take sides’

Joyce Woodhouse is used to sparring sons. (Image from Frontrunner Production’s “Woodhouse Divided”)
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Joyce Woodhouse became an Internet sensation on Tuesday when she called in to a C-SPAN program featuring her dueling pundit sons, Republican Dallas Woodhouse and Democrat Brad Woodhouse. A clip of the segment, in which she chides her clashing — and surprised — offspring was instantly circulated on Facebook and Twitter, with headlines dubbing her a “hero mom” and the “best C-SPAN caller of all time.”

“I hope they just kinda get this out of their system today on your program,” she said to host Steve Scully of her boys’ bickering.

In an interview Wednesday, the Raleigh, N.C., resident (who wouldn’t give her age: “I’ll forgive you for asking if you forgive me for not answering”) says she was surprised to discover that the call that she made thinking that no one would see it (“it’s C-SPAN!”) had gone viral. After the call, she went about her day, taking her car to be serviced and shopping at a nearby mall while it was fixed.

Democrat Brad Woodhouse and Republican Dallas Woodhouse received a surprise during their joint appearance on C-SPAN when their mother called into scold them for fighting over the holidays. (Video: C-SPAN)

Then she noticed the calls and e-mails that were pouring in. She heard from a niece in Kansas and a nephew in California. TV networks wanted to talk.

She figures her stern but loving message might have struck a chord with other folks preparing for the holidays who just want their families to stop squabbling about politics and eat some dang ham already. “I think there are people who just want to have the bickering stop,” she said. “Maybe these people aren’t political and they just don’t like to hear this sort of thing.”

Her tips for surviving holiday meals in a divided household?

First, don’t try to take testy subjects off the table — but urge moderation. “I ask them to tone it down,” she says. “But I’ve given up on trying to get them to stop talking about politics…. They don’t mind me.”

Although she usually agrees with left-leaning Brad, she tries not to engage in their spats: “I don’t take sides.”

To keep the volume down on heated conversations, she suggests doctors’ visits might be in order. “Dallas is so loud — He went and had his hearing checked, and I was so surprised that there was nothing wrong with him,” she marvels.

Most importantly, though, a little perspective goes well with turkey and trimmings.

“I should feel fortunate that my family wants to be together at all,” she says. “I guess I should be glad to have them arguing.”

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