Phrase of the day

When psychologists do experiments with lab rats, they deliberately keep them underfed because hungry rats learn faster. When the experiment is over, the psychologists let them eat as much as they want. Sometimes they gorge themselves so badly that they become prostrate and unresponsive. This state is called satiation shock.

Bet you can guess why I mention this on the morning after Thanksgiving! :)

* * *

We had such a good time last night at my parents' house. The food was sooooo good, a mix of traditional and new, including our Thanksgiving sine qua non: Nana's cocktail. Nana was my great-grandmother; her cocktail is a lovingly-crafted homemade Bloody Mary mix. With or without vodka. Mmmmm!

Anyway, even better than the food was the family. The cousins played together nicely -- nicer than ever before, in fact, given the age range. The parents were able to pay attention to each other instead of the kids. It was great.

Best of all, we revived an old game. My family (my family of origin, that is) is very big on playing games. Board games, word games, guessing games. And we're also very big on inventing our own. My sister and I have a looooong history of playing made-up games. Mostly the object of our games is to laugh and be silly. One of my favorite games is one we play at the mall during the Christmas season. The name of the game is "Heavy or Light?" One sister points to some object, typically a Christmas decoration, but could be anything, and asks the other sister "heavy or light?" We both guess. Then we lift. Heaviness or lightness is relative, based solely on whether the object is heavier or lighter than our expectation of it. Is it metal . . . or just gold-painted papier-m√Ęche?? And there's the sneaky goofiness factor. Usually we're examining and lifting things that we have no business touching, such as the fake presents under a fake tree in a department store display. Oh ha ha!

But that's not the game we played last night. The game we played last night was invented many years ago, when my sister was away at college. She was on the phone with my mom, and my mom was trying to describe a new pair of earrings she had just bought. They were hard to describe. Finally, she suggested that Eva go get a piece of paper and a pencil, and my mom would give her instructions for drawing them. "Okay, draw a hexagon. Now inside the hexagon draw another smaller one, about halfway in. Now draw lines connecting the points of the inner hexagon to the outer hexagon . . . " Etc. Nowadays we'd probably just take a digital photo of the earrings and email it, but in the technologically-benighted late '80s this was a marvellously entertaining way of conveying information. So entertaining that we did it frequently, even when we were in the same room. We would take a jewelry catalog, choose a piece, give drawing instructions, and then compare the result with the original photo. Is this totally kooky or what?

Years passed, we forgot all about the game. Until last night. I think what brought it to mind was my mom's ridiculously large collection of costume jewelry. A lot of it, coincidentally, came to us from the Nana of cocktail fame. She keeps it readily available for grandkids to play with. They were playing with it, and . . . oh yeah, the earring-drawing game! So nothing would do except for my mom to go and get the original hexagon-shaped earrings and describe them to us. So we drew the hexagons, and about three more pairs after that. All to the tune of gut-busting laughter.

Now that's what I call a great Thanksgiving. Hope yours was wonderful too. : )


  • I love board games and made up games - I could play them at every family gathering. We play one where everyone writes the names of people - could be someone famous, an athlete, a storybook character, a t.v. character, anyone basically. And then the papers go in a hat, the hat goes around and you pull a paper out. Then you have to get everyone to guess who the person is without saying the name. Can be really challenging when you don't know who the person is. We had a friend who would do things like put in people who lived on his hall in Alice Lloyd freshman year. It is a great game. Hmmm...maybe I can get some friends over here to play it tonight!

    Sounds like your Thanksgiving was great! Are you still going to that seminar at Lakewood on Wednesday?

    posted by Anonymous NixieKnox on 12:16 PM  

  • What a lovely holiday! I definitely want to institute game-playing traditions in my young family.

    posted by Blogger Suzanne on 4:02 PM  

  • It sounds like so much fun!

    posted by Blogger purple_kangaroo on 7:30 PM  

  • Phew, I was getting worried. The U.S. blogosphere has been quiet...too quiet. Now I know it was just satiation shock.

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 7:36 PM  

  • Our game is poker. When the meal is finished, out come the chips, nickles and dimes, and off we go.

    To this day, any time the family gets together, we keep up the tradition. Amazingly, we've never had an argument over any game.

    The only problems arise when we play games with wild cards. Dad always comments, "It's not real poker." Yet, he always plays the hand. Guess it's not that bad.

    posted by Blogger Fred on 10:17 PM  

  • It's worthwhile, in this context, to mention another inevitable feature of get-togethers, such as the one Julie described, for which I introduce the concept of the pre-goofy game. This is played by children who are only at the threshold of the goofball stage of human development. We had some examples of this genre last evening, too. The six-year old girl and the five-year old boy, two cousins, interacted in mysteriously hilarious ways. If you heard their kind of guffawing and snickering from adolescents, you would suspect somethng raunchy was going on or being speculated upon. You would know that, given more information, you could penetrate to the fun of it, perhaps even find it fun-ny. The pre-goofy game, by contrast, totally eludes decipherment by adults. As Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, California, when she was asked what it was like there, "there is no there there." Basically, what the pre-goofers do, is to laugh about laughing.

    Why is this "worth mentioning"?

    Because we adults are not so different. What we celebrate has little to do with contents, with the Pilgrims, and a lot with the memory of previous celebrations. What we celebrate today is in large measure that we have always celebrated -- as long as we can remember. Isn't that so much more sustaining than the memory of some Puritans who would surely disapprove of our excesses.

    It's all about the recurrence. The pre-goofers laugh because they laughed, and we celebrate because we celebrated.

    And ain't it wonderful?

    posted by Anonymous Wormfather on 4:22 PM  

  • I love it when fatherworm comments - I had some inane comment to make, but I've forgotten it all now...that idea of celebrating for the sake of it...does this mean (in general) that USers get a double dose with the lack of religious-ness to Christmas? Especially with having large sections of the the community identifying as not Christian...?

    Hmm Ah yes, games...I love them. There is a company from Seattle called 'Cheapass' who make these really dodgy board games, like the games people make up (well, they are games people make up, but they don't give a rat's about marketability) and I love them. I good (now dead) friend of mine got me on to them. He used to make games too... sorry, rambling, too tired.

    posted by Blogger Mummy/Crit on 6:13 AM  

  • I like Fatherworm's comments too. Although we were prepared to play that night, I think we were also too in shock to laugh it up. I think I will name the pie I concocted "Satiation Shock Pie", because it pretty much immobilized me for a couple of hours.

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 10:04 PM  

  • BTW, that was me, Laura. I don't know why I'm suddenly only allowed to be anonymous again.

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 10:05 PM  

  • Glad you had a great holiday!
    Our family loves board games, too and we also make up games. I used to plan parties for my kids when they were younger and they insisted on certain games I invented.... also did that when I was a therapist for the schools. Creativity is fun. But I find it most entertaining to hear what my kids or friends invent, more than anything of mine. Yours and your sis's game sounds cool, 'cept I thought it would be Channuka season not CHristmas...

    posted by Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) on 7:45 AM  

  • That sounds like a wonderful holiday. I meant to bring "Cranium" with us when we left for the holidays but, alas, I forgot it. So we had to make do with football on TV.

    posted by Anonymous Melanie Lynne Hauser on 8:57 AM  

  • I love those traditions. That is a really great game. All games--they are great for conversation, getting the personalities flowing, and using the imagination.

    You had such a great time, and I enjoyed hearing about it.

    posted by Blogger Running2Ks on 2:08 PM