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Last Thanksgiving, I consumed too much.  My family is a large one of four sisters and energetic, creative grandkids.  SThanksgiving has become a contest to see who can plan and cook the most.  My in-law in the food business excels at this.  I made a couple apple pies that managed to leak and make the oven smoky.

At Thanksgiving, we have a delicious drinks course along with tasty appetizers, a two hour wait, and then the main courses.  For the appetizers, there were mushroom turnovers, spinach dip, Samosa Rolls with chutney, Chicken Keema lettuce wraps, spiced cashews, and .  In my enthusiasm I drank two beers, a pear-mango cocktail, and a whiskey.  I was pretty happy and hungry.  Jovial and jocular.

Then came the main course, by then, the alcohol and the food already eaten had me rather sleepy.  To which I added cornish hen, mashed potato, green bean casserole,  cornbread stuffing, cranberry relish, butternut squash enchiladas with avocado topping, Brussels Sprouts,  and  sweet potato fries.  I was just exhausted and sore by the time I got try my dutifully delicious Apple pie.

Contrast this with the Thanksgivings I grew up with.  My parents would drive to Macon, and my grandmother would have cooked Turkey, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole.  Followed with store-bought yeast rolls and pumpkin pies, and it was all over but the football.  I was but a growing boy then, but this was objectively simpler, even for my grandmother.  Less social in a way, though, as it was always grandma doing the cooking.  Last Thanksgiving, we all pitched in, we all dozen of us wanted to outmatch each other on the quality of our dishes.

The escalation of Thanksgiving dinner to a Grand Guignol of gluttony is similar to the grip of Militiant Jihadism, Political Libertarianism, American Greensor any ideological movement that places perfection above pragmatism.  In both, people are gripped by the need to outdo each other in their pursuit of  a goal.  The goal, (food and family in our case, religious piety in theirs) is a struggle against the status quo.

Thankfully, the Thanksgiving conflagration only lasts a day, with a month of negotiation.  For political ideologues, the struggle is eternal, and the greatest enemy becomes your competitor/colleagues in the party.  Heroes are formed, followed and thrown away regularly, as they are shown to be imperfect in some way.  The ultimate sacrifices are also the final ones.  There is nothing else you need to worry about after that.

In the case of Thanksgiving and in ideologies in both cases we wind up with a solution that is less enjoyable to most, but individually more satisfying as everyone is invested in the contest.  The contest has become the point of the thing.