There were no "power" seats at the table in my family. For the holidays in my family, when you have 30 people in a home that was not necessarily meant for 3o people, you were just damn glad you got a seat. And you were thankful to be with 30 people who you (most of the time) like. No one cared who sat where, you just tried to find a seat near your favorite family member. On a daily basis in my family, when it was usually just four of us at the table and we did not sit at the dining table, we had our unofficial assigned seats. It was not based on status in the family, but on function - my mom sat on the side of the table nearest the kitchen, my dad and I sat on the other side and my brother sat on the end because it had the least amount of space (and probably because they didn't want my brother and I sitting together). The table was more of a low counter bar and the fourth side was up against a wall.
In MG's family, there is a power/status seat - the head of the table. It appears they take this very seriously. One time when my parents were here, my dad, unaware of this status involved with the "head of the table", put his plate at the head of the table. MG made a comment later to me, so the next time it happened, I moved the plate and MG or I explained to my dad that MG likes to sit there. My dad now knows and he never tries to sit at the head of the table.
Over Thanksgiving, CJ tried to sit at the head of the table. I told him he had to move because we needed him in a different seat, being the littlest and all. My MIL shouted out, "Yes, I think the two grandfathers should sit at the heads of the table." I was a little confused at first. Based on Chris's past explanation of all this to me, about the "man of the house" and all, HE should have been at the head and ME at the the other end. My dad chuckled and said, "Oh no, MG gets to sit there." I then said, "Oh no, this is OUR house and MG and I are sitting at the heads of the table." Honestly, I didn't care where anyone sat. Something about another person giving away "important" seats IN MY HOUSE just didn't sit right.
I later asked MG about why this is such a big deal in his family. I needed more than "man of the house" stuff, especially with a family who prides themselves on not being caught up in the superficial stuff. He went through the history of kings and emporers at the head of the table, blah, blah, blah. I told him I needed a more relevant explanation since his family is not royalty. He really couldn't come up with much beyond "respect your elders" and said he was glad I spoke up because he did think it was his right to sit at the head of the table. In his family, he had waited his whole childhood to be in that spot.
So that was a short story made long. Does your family have a seating tradition? Do you have a seat of "status" at your table?