Photo by iwona_kellie/Flickr CC
In Thanksgiving Puritanism there is a "text": the orthodoxies of menu and the insistence on stuffing yourself to the gills.
The menu is absolutist: turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans or Brussels sprouts (never a salad!) apple, pecan, and pumpkin pies. Dictated by custom, and noting Thanksgiving's actual historical debut as a national holiday under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the meal has been sanctified. Only in rare cases has a non-turkey, less-than-groaning board been welcome: even vegans need a tofurkey.
Then there is the orthodoxy of excess: In the reading of Thanksgiving as carnival--lusty consumption exceeding all sumptuary laws--you are meant to feel at least pain if not guilt afterwards. Telling yourself that your post-prandial sleepiness is caused by the trytophans in the turkey and not simply by eating too much isn't sufficient. It is not the turkey's fault. You have eaten too much and you are transgressing other laws than those of physiology. If you are monstrous in gluttony, those puritans inside us would say, you are going to suffer as in all other crimes against morality. And yet, you are supposed to, because in that contract, your job is to prove that you are, like all of us, a sinner.