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The Globe and Mail

Nitpicker? Eternal kid? Which holiday type are you?

Family at Christmas

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Defining characteristic: An inability to learn from every other year and get shopping done at least one week before Christmas, a failure they berate themselves for. As a result, the Procrastinator usually gives less than perfect gifts because with the clock ticking there's not enough time to be thoughtful.

Natural habitat: anywhere but the mall, except for the two days before Christmas, where he (it's always a he) can be found frantically searching for presents.

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How to deal with them: Ignore them as best you can. Their perennial scramble is exhausting for everyone, but while they're at the mall you get to be at home eating Turtles.


Defining characteristic: Juvenile enthusiasm. Gets more excited in toy stores than actual children, is apt to start snowball fights even when no one is in the mood, and is likely to actually shake wrapped presents in an attempt to guess what they are.

Natural habitat: Wherever there is tobogganing, there you shall find the Eternal Kid.

How to deal with them: patience. Their love of the holidays can be infectious – admit it, you do want to build a snowman. If you need them to give it a rest, you can coax them to do whatever you want with the promise of hot cocoa. Just don't forget those little marshmallows.


Defining characteristic: Fussiness. The Nitpicker has been known to move tree ornaments from one branch to the one right beside it because that's where it belongs. Also loves obsessing over place settings for Christmas dinner and giving you condescending looks as you wrap presents without architectural precision.

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Natural habitat: At the kitchen table, updating a to-do list. Perhaps also wondering if the font on this to-do list is the right one.

How to deal with them: A Janus-like approach whereby you agree to do whatever they say to their face – "Yes, I will put exactly four pine cones in that bowl" – and then go back to doing whatever it was you were doing. Nitpickers really want to do everything themselves, anyways.


Defining characteristic: Trying to buy the cheapest gifts possible and hoping to get out of all social obligations that come with a financial cost, whether it is dinner with friends or tickets to the Nutcracker ballet.

Natural habitat: At home watching television, which they already pay for so why bother going out. When dining out in large groups, can also be found talking to waiters about putting themselves on a separate bill.

How to deal with them: Gentle mockery. They know they are cheap-o's, and however much they might resist the joy of the season, they can be convinced to indulge in it through humorous prodding. Start with Scrooge jokes.

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Defining characteristic: An unflagging sentimentality in which every aspect of Christmas prompts a wave of more positivity and memories of Yuletides of yore.

Natural habitat: Flipping through family photo albums to dig up pics of previous Christmases. Can also be found with that box of decorations dragged up from the basement, taking them out one at a time and telling a little story and/or making the sound people make when they see a newborn puppy.

How to deal with them: Polite efficiency. They'll gush over the cookies you made even if they're really bad and they're going to tell you about that time when someone did something heartwarming. It's up to you to listen for no longer than you have to, perhaps share a special memory of your own, and then move on.

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