We will start out with an easy one that is present at every table in America. This person is what we call:
1. The Traditionalist
The Traditionalist is key to this American Holiday. Most often a female, this individual has been around from the get-go when all your family traditions started. Like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof, she shuns change. Everything from the falling apart centerpieces Grandma made in Sunday School to the exact amount of parsley in the stuffing, The Traditionalist is adamant to rererererecreate what they remember to be the perfect holiday again. And again. And again.
2. The Really, Really Old One
Not to be confused with Cool Gran, the Really, Really Old One is really old and really sick of just plain everything. He/she must inform everyone in the house of every ache and stomach/intestinal issue they are having, usually when the spinach casserole is being passed. They spend a long time in the bathroom and are usually found sitting stoically in front of the Game.
3. The Cool Gran
Cool Gran is just that: she’s old, but she’s a mean thing. She tells it like it is, and is the first to inform The Traditionalist to get with the times. She putters around in sportswear with a glass of something hard or a case of beer, because, let’s face it: Gran knows she’s gonna need it. Sitting next to Cool Gran is a competition among family members that is usually divided between her and The Cool Cousin.
4. The Annoying Vegetarian
Not to be confused with the Cool Vegetarian, which is what I considered myself a few years ago. The Annoying Veg comes armed with a backseat of Peta paraphernalia and glossy photos of animal cruelty. The person does not arrive with a yummy alternative side dish to share with a full heart; no, they are far more hardcore. After sitting in the kitchen making comments about animal carcasses being sliced and diced, they storm out to the backyard where they erect a firepit from biodegradable fibers and roast up some tofurkey on a spit.
5. The College Kid
Everybody loves the College Kid. Usually just completing their first semester at University, the Kid has learned all about the world’s injustices and can’t wait to inform the family about how superior they’ve become. They are ready to discuss current events and take you down with their knowledge of microeconomics and how many more rainforests have been destroyed since the yams have been passed just a few seconds ago. The College Kid might join forces with The Annoying Veg, which will inevitably cause turmoil in the soul of The Peacemaker.
6. The Peacemaker
The Peacemaker wants nothing more than for everyone to get along. Usually a she, this person has an agenda from the get-go, and also an itinerary for how the day can go most smoothly without fights or bad feelings rearing their horrible heads. She has a plan for each member of the family and keeps the ball rolling, the games set out, and talk of politics ready to be squashed in a moment’s notice. The Peacemaker is usually in cahoots with The Traditionalist and will likely clash with and plot the demise of The Annoying Veg and The Activist.
7. The Activist
The Activist is there for one reason, and it’s not love. They are there to inform and anger. When this is accomplished, they gleefully grab leftovers and head back to their place to watch the news. Must be kept away from College Kid, or their combined powers might result in real bloodshed.
8. The Cool Cousin
This family member is most loved and a seat next to them means awesomeness. They usually fly or drive in from out of town, and their concrete whereabouts on all the other days of the year are uncertain. The Cool Cuz is almost always from the city, and they get extra points if they fly in from New York or Paris. If your family Thanksgiving takes place anywhere rural, The Cool Cuz is venerated by all younger members of the family, while they make everyone else mesmerized and wary. They come sporting attire and things on their bodies that can only come from a different planet. And all of it is cool. Their jobs are fascinating, their relationship statuses are a secret, and they are more than happy to be home and to play at the Kid’s Table.
9. The Secret-Keeper
The Secret-Keeper is that family member whom no one has seen for a long time and has a Big One to get off their chest. Right away when you tell them, ‘Hi, long time, no see,’ you know something is up. Their eyes dart around like a nervous cat’s. When questioned, they jump five feet in the air. The entire Thanksgiving Day is spent waiting for The Keeper to spill the beans. It might be that they’re marrying someone three times their age. They might be coming out of the closet. Or they are moving to Spain. Whatever it is, everyone knows it’s just a matter of time before The Secret-Keeper is going to confess; the question is, when?
10. The Pie Person
Oh, how this person loves the Pumpkin Pie. (Or it might be Grandma’s potatoes, or Stove Top Stuffing.) This person wants only one thing on their plate and spends the entire day talking about it. And when it’s time to eat, they take more than their fair share of the object they desire.
11. The Overachiever
The Overachiever is present to make everyone else in the family feel like losers. They are good at everything, look amazing, are at the top of their physical peak, and far smarter than you can ever hope to be. They are one-uppers, and they can’t wait to tell you about meeting the President, saving the hungry children, and their new promotional title Top Dog in Everything Awesome. Usually seen mostly with The College Kid, whom The Overachiever has taken under their wing.
12. The Freeloader
The Freeloader doesn’t bring anything, doesn’t contribute intellectually, and doesn’t offer to help in any way. They are there to be entertained and eat everything in sight. Messes they make are not their problem, and they take off with a huge amount of leftovers as soon as the wine runs out.
13. The Pig Skin Worshiper
They love football. During commercials, they organize games in the backyard. During the meal, they sit where they can see the TV. Don’t get in their way.
So, this Thanksgiving, take this list with you and inform your loved ones just where they fit into the Holiday Spectrum. They will probably be insulted and stick you at the Kid’s Table. But that’s where you want to end up anyway, right? You and Cool Cuz can teach the kiddos how to play Texas Holdem.