Thanksgiving dinner has been food for the thoughts of many comedians and humorous writers over the years.

“An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.”

Chicago Sun-Times newspaper columnist and television talk show host Irv Kupcinet once said that. He’s not alone in observing that diets are discarded on the holiday.

“What we’re talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets,” agreed humorist Erma Bombeck. “I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?”

Oh, there are other reasons, as Bombeck herself would note on another occasion.

“Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Halftimes take 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.”

Many thoughts

Thanksgiving dinner has been food for the thoughts of many comedians and humorous writers over the years, according to several Internet websites. Not all of their observations have been complimentary.

“My mother is such a lousy cook that Thanksgiving at her house is a time of sorrow,” Rita Rudner joked - we hope. “My cooking is so bad,” said Phyllis Diller, turning the joke around on herself, “my kids thought Thanksgiving was to commemorate Pearl Harbor.”

Roseanne Barr? Her view of the holiday feast was perhaps jaded by the methods of its preparation.

“Here I am, 5 o’clock in the morning, stuffing bread crumbs up a dead bird’s butt.”

Technically, what she said is true. But it perhaps makes those who hear her complaint want to wax a bit more poetic.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food,” is a quotation attributed to poet George Bernard Shaw. And satirist Ambrose Bierce is supposed to have defined a turkey as “a large bird whose flesh, when eaten on certain religious anniversaries, has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude.”

Gratitude is good.

Giving thanks

And indeed we do give thanks. We are thankful for the food. We are grateful for the chance to consume it with friends and family. And, we appreciate, the comfortable time we will spend in companionship after the meal has concluded.

“The thing I’m most thankful for right now,” someone is supposed to have said — the quote is listed online anonymously — after a Thanksgiving dinner, “is elastic waistbands.”

Yes, we eat too much on the holiday. “Thanksgiving is America’s national chow-down feast, the one occasion each year when gluttony becomes a patriotic duty,” once wrote Baltimore Sun columnist Michael Dresser.

But all good things, even overeating, must end when the leftovers are gone. For some, the end of this special day is something for which we should give thanks, as well.

“Thanksgiving,” said late night talk show host Jay Leno, “(is) when the Indians said, ‘Well, this has been fun, but we know you have a long voyage back to England.’ ”

Contact Gary Brown at gary.brown@cantonrep.com.