What I Did On My Holidays


Thanksgiving for Beginners

   


 

The Origins of Thanksgiving


(This is essential reading to avoid  tragic faux pas that reveal your ignorance)

The legend of Thanksgiving has it that there was this one meal one day that both the new settlers and the earlier settlers (aka Indians, native Americans, etc.) were invited. The official story is that they were thanks to the big guy for this great big new empty (apart from the earlier settlers) land with its abundant food. This is part of one big cover-up that has only now been revealed.

The true story is that the new settlers were thankful that the earlier settlers hadn't filled them so full of arrows that the local porcupines were in awe of the much awaited second coming of the Great Porcupine. Also they were thankful that it looked like the earlier settlers could be conned into thinking that a great deal consisted of some blankets, some booze and being banished to the uninhabitable regions of this new land.

In contrast, the earlier settlers were thankful that they hadn't all died of cholera and the new settlers hadn't come after them with guns, so maybe these new white fellas weren't as bad as the rumours coming up from down south had suggested.

Anyway, as so often happens at these big meals, everyone ate too much, got on each others nerves towards dessert, and things got a bit ugly. For whoever got left doing the dishes as well as for everyone for the next couple of centuries...

Apologies to anyone who thinks their Thanksgiving story is better.



 

Food dynamics at the Thanksgiving table


First, put out the place settings and a small decorative vase in the centre of the table. Now fill the rest of the available space with food. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, corn, salad, etc., etc., etc., etc. The last person to sit at the table has to bring one extra dish. Everyone then serves themselves, involving a complex ritual of swapping and passing bowls of food. The eating starts except for the one person left holding the extra dish. There is no room on the table, so they have to hold it, adding more food to their plate until someone else picks up a dish to add to their own plate. At this point, the first person gets to put the extra dish down and get on with the eating. In this way, a spare dish moves about the table in much the same way as an electron makes its way through a silicon crystal. This is also a variant on the dining philosopher referred to in the literature as the "feel-oh-so-full-er" problem.

The end of this food passing and eating process is not when there is no more food.. This is a practical impossibility at Thanksgiving, even if someone invited Mr Creosote. Nor is the eating stopped when people are full. No, the cease-feed is declared only after the first bowl of food is entirely empty. This is because it is at this point that there is no longer at least one person holding the extra dish automatically adding food to their own plate waiting for table space to appear. Now with no extra dish, everyone can just finish what is on their own plate and groan. Thus cease-feed is achieved.

Of course, much in the same fashion as the cease-fire negotiated in any war zone, there are isolated and sporadic outbreaks of feeding for some time after the official cease-feed.

The skilled Thanksgiving dinner organizer arranges things so that there is enough food that everyone is sufficiently overfed by the time cease-feed is declared yet there are no actual fatalities from eating too much.


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