Thankful blessings, the delicious aroma of roasted turkey wafting through the house, the whole family seated around the dining room table enjoying a homemade feast; these are the ways I look fondly upon Thanksgiving. The Martha Stewart in me believes this is a reality that I can accomplish each holiday season. After hosting and cooking countless Thanksgiving meals, I know that how matter how carefully I plan this is NOT reality. I can control the venue, the menu, the timing, but I cannot control the guests. Thanksgiving is about counting our blessings with family and friends. The same family and friends that make us crazy.
Every holiday season is full of nutty family and friends. Look at the movies, country Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, cheap Uncle Frank in Home Alone, the self-righteous new boyfriend in The Santa Claus series, these are characters we all understand because we see them in the flesh around the holidays. Here are 7 nutty characters found at every Thanksgiving table.
- The Harried Hostess: At her core, the Harried Hostess loves her family and friends. Why else would she have gathered them together and spent all day cooking for them? But they have all taken their toll. She is so tired of her children’s nagging, her husband’s avoidance, her mother’s interference, the crazy personalities of the rest of her guests, and the stress of cooking an enormous gourmet meal she’s poured wine into her travel coffee mug to make it through the day.
- The Nagging Children: While we all want our kids to learn to be thankful, it’s a process. For kids, Thanksgiving is like Christmas without the gifts. They have all of the stress of being around new people, being made to behave, and having to wait for food without new toys to keep them occupied. In turn, they are cranky, hungry, tired, and prone to throwing fits and nagging their mother at every opportunity.
- The Hiding Husbands: Husbands use Thanksgiving to hide from their wives by watching football on the couch. If the wife yells loudly and for long enough, he can probably be prompted to hunt for the serving platters stored in the garage. They know to stay away from the kitchen and the women in general because as soon as they are noticed, they will promptly be given a task.
- The Cheap Uncle: Every family has one. The Cheap Uncle shows up to Thanksgiving with a bottle of the store brand brandy or possibly a small bouquet of carnations (if anything). He makes his way to all the other guests, talking about his next soliciting money and hyping up his “great business idea.” He takes the biggest slices of turkey and pie, drinks his weight in spiked eggnog, then isn’t seen by the rest of the family until the next holiday meal (or until he runs out of money.
- The Deaf Great-Aunt: Great Aunt Rita/Marlene/Ruth/Dorothy/Edna lives alone with her 5 cats, and hasn’t been able to hear (even with her hearing aids) since 1995. Calls every child by the wrong name and gives the confused kids quarters and hard butterscotch candies. She carries on conversations at such a volume that the neighbors can hear. Always brings a neon colored Jello salad.
- The Overbearing Mother: Loves to pop into the kitchen with tidbits of knowledge like, “Don’t forget that Uncle Arnie has a heart condition and can’t have too much salt,” and “Do you really think you should be using cream in those potatoes?” She makes a big dent in the wine collection, but at least she comes bearing pies.
- The Handsy Father-In-Law: All women of legal age have learned to carefully avoid the unwanted affection of the Handsy Father-In-Law. The hugs are a little too long, and his watchful eyes stare below the neck during conversations. Watch out for swift pat on the posterior as you walk past your husband’s recliner that he has claimed as his own.
- The Country Cousin: No family would be complete without a cousin who lives out in the boonies and just doesn’t quite have the social graces of everyone else. The Country Cousin brings a can of bacon flavored spray cheese and crackers for an appetizer. He makes cracks about the “sissy beer” (the local brewed porter your husband prefers) and cracks open a can of lite American beer from the cooler in the cab of his pickup truck.
- The Self Righteous Academic-This guest could be an uncle, a cousin, or your college age son’s new girlfriend, or your sister’s second husband. The Self Righteous Academic uses obscure references from Victorian literature to discuss current events and doesn’t seem to notice when everyone else stares back with befuddled expressions on their faces. Brings wine requiring a 20 minute description (that tastes like the $8 bottle you bought at Trader Joes.)
- The Foreign Friend: Maybe it’s Javier from work, or Abdel from your husband’s pick-up soccer game, or Annika from spin class, we all have friends from other countries with no family close by that we invite to Thanksgiving. They are polite, they bring gifts, and they sit smiling hesitantly as our crazy mother enunciates loudly at them-even though their English is probably, in reality, better than hers. We want these people to feel welcome and not alone on the holidays (so why do we let our crazy families near them!)