Southern family Thanksgivings are great festivities, when all the eccentric and wild people we are somehow related to gather for a yearly meal. In keeping with that tradition, I thought we'd go ahead and take a break from the Jon Gruden fever and bring you the sixteen most awkward people at your Thanksgiving dinner.
1. The racist grandparent(s)
I don't care what race you are, white, black, latino, asian, every American Thanksgiving has at least one racist grandparent.
One year at Thanksgiving my grandfather said he liked hockey because no black people played it.
2. The woman who talks about calories.
It's Thanksgiving, lady.
Your own personal obsessions don't have to be shared with everyone at the table.
Plus, in an amazing irony, the woman who talks about calories is always already fat.
So what's going to change if you eat the pecan pie?
3. The couple that you know is going to be divorced soon.
Yep, no matter who you are, you've been at Thanksgiving when a husband asked his wife to pass the cranberries in such an angry tone that you thought, "How in the world is this couple still married?"
Some of you reading this right now are like, "Those were my parents!"
4. The angry dad who is already worried about traffic on the drive back.
There are few things worse in life than having to leave Wednesday afternoon to drive a great distance for Thanksgiving when you know that you also have to make the same return drive on Sunday.
These are the two worst days to drive in America.
And just about every dad in the entire country has to make this drive with his kids screaming bloody murder the entire drive both ways.
If you're reading this right now and thinking, "Clay, you sound like the angry dad who is already worried about traffic on the drive back," you're correct, I am. This is why we're flying to Mexico for Thanksgiving this year. (Note, this is not a joke, we are really flying to Mexico for Thanksgiving this year).
5. The kid who plays video games during dinner.
Look, kid, when I was your age we sat at the kid's table and got in fights with our relatives while looking them right in the eye. (And kicking them under the table).
Put down the damn games at the table.
And eat your green beans too, you grimy little bastard.
6. The family member with the lame excuse for why they didn't come that everyone talks about.
There's always a family member that everyone knows won't actually come to Thanksgiving that waits until the last moment to say that he or she won't be coming.
We all knew you weren't coming for the past month.
That's why you were in charge of bringing jello instead of a food that people actually wanted to eat.
7. The political family member.
Oh, great, just what we all wanted to hear about when we all have to sit at the table and can't leave, your take on why Barack Obama is a socialist who will kill us all.
And Obama wasn't born here, either!
Or, just as bad, did you know Republicans want to restrict women's rights to abortion.
You know what an abortion is?
At this table.
8. The survivalist.
He shows up with an open bed pick-up truck from 1978 covered in the back with a tarp.
After the first football game, he takes you outside, pulls back the tarp and reveals an entire collection of canned beanie weenies intermixed with 14 assault weapons.
He spits and says, "When the grid goes down, I'm ready."
(Note: this man is guaranteed to be an Arkansas football fan. Guaranteed.)
9. Your older relative who is checking out the younger women's cleavage and not even hiding the fact that he is doing this.
Most men look away when they see cleavage.
But older men don't.
It's like they're aware that at any moment they may die, so why would they limit the amount of time they have to look at a young woman's cleavage?
Put it this way, how hard would you yourself look at a nice pair of boobs if you knew that you might never see a nice pair of boobs for the rest of your life?
Makes sense now, doesn't it?
10. The kid with the allergy.
No, lady, your kid really doesn't have an allergy.
I'm just going to throw this out there, how many kids die from allergic reactions to food every year? Are there any? Because it seems like the news media would pound these stories into the ground. It would definitely be a Today Show lead story if a kid died from eating peanuts at Thanksgiving.
Have you ever seen this story?
If these stories existed Nancy Grace would have a war on the peanut.
I mean, it's awful to die of an allergy, but I think it's more likely that kids are smothered during pillow fights on Thanksgiving than die of allergies.
11. The divorced dad whose family is now with the mom on Thanksgiving.
I mean, your life just pretty much sucks right now, right?
Your whole family is eating in another house and you're living in a crappy apartment by yourself and you're probably wearing a crappy sweater and leather jacket combination because you've just realized that you can't even dress yourself now that you're not married anymore.
I mean, just give this man a bottle of Jack and get out of the way.
12. The husband and wife who fight over whether the football game is left on while we eat.
Has there ever been a husband who didn't want the football game left on during the Thanksgiving meal? Alternatively, has there ever been a wife who thought this was a good idea?
This has to be the most common Thanksgiving fight in America.
13. The drunk.
If there's alcohol at a family Thanksgiving, lots of people get drunk.
But not everyone is wasted drunk by ten in the morning telling stories about Spring Break 1989.
You did what at Spinnakers?
14. The mother-in-law who clearly hates her son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
In my experience father-in-laws are pretty forgiving. But mother-in-laws never believe that their children have picked the right spouse.
Some of them are secret about this disdain, others are more open.
For instance, I've been married for eight years now. For about five years my mother-in-law really didn't like me. It was readily apparent and incredibly awkward. Every look you could almost see her thinking, "So you really decided to stop practicing law and write and talk about sports? Really, you did that. You dumb ass, no good..."
Now that we've produced two awesome grandkids and I've somehow gotten us rich suddenly I'm the greatest person on earth.
15. The overly competitive dad in the family Thanksgiving football game.
Kids are always competitive.
That's to be expected.
But there's always at least one dad who treats the family Thanksgiving game like the Super Bowl, drafts teams, isn't above picking over his own kids to get the better talent, treats the game like he's BIll Belichick coaching for his life. For instance, he's in the huddle breaking down family members psychologically as part of his play-calling and he's like, "Okay, Jimmy, we're going to pump fake at your Uncle Ben because he just lost his job, he has no self-confidence, and he's trying to make a big play so that your aunt doesn't leave him. He's definitely going for the interception. So pump and go."
16. The awkward interplay of multiple parenting strategies.
Kids are damn banshees at Thanksgiving.
Partly this is because no one raises their kids the exact same way. What works well for your kids might not work so well for other kids.
For instance, a few years ago I was at a family Thanksgiving in Detroit. I didn't have kids yet, but my seven year old nephew was out playing basketball with me. After a little while he started saying, "Why don't you give me money if I make shots Uncle Clay?'
And I was like, "Pay you for made shots, who are you Kobe Bryant?"
So I'm paying him for made shots.
And he's got like ten dollars added up after a half hour of shooting or so, and he says he wants a chance to get to twenty dollars but that he's tired of shooting baskets.
So I walk like fifty feet away and I say, "Okay, double or nothing from here. If I make this shot then you get nothing, but if I miss it then you get $20."
It's a good bet for him, this is a long way to shoot from and I haven't even really attempted a long shot in a half hour.
He agrees to the bet and stands there on the steps to the house watching as the ball arcs through the air.
Nothing but net.
I mean, an absolutely amazing shot, the backyard Thanksgiving equivalent of the Bryce Drew Valpo shot that beat Ole Miss in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
Immediately my nephew erupts in tears and rushes inside the house.
Clearly, he understood the stakes. He made a good bet, but he happened to lose. That's a decent lesson on gambling, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Sometimes the percentages don't play out in your favor. That's the lesson I'd teach my own boys.
Plus, eventually he'll get the money back out of me, I'm his uncle, it's not like I took away his dinner or actually took his own money from him. I was paying him for making shots in the backyard, not picking cotton in the field.
But his mom is furious at me. Then my wife gets mad at me too. Pretty soon every woman in the house wants me tarred and feathered.
Meanwhile, every man, including my brother in law, is saying, "A bet's a bet. That was an amazing shot!"
Ultimately his mom and dad get into a minor fight over the whole deal, and his mom won't come downstairs for dinner.
So I did what anyone else would do at an awkward family Thanksgiving.
I got drunk.
Now the mom and dad are divorced and everyone's much happier.