## Friday, December 26, 2008

### The formula

There is an art to getting a huge family around one dinner table for Christmas dinner. And part of that art is knowing how many people are there. My family has 20 people when everyone is there. But not everyone comes to everything. So, on Christmas Day, Mom asked the assembled throng in the kitchen, "How many people are here?" and I discovered that there are as many formulas for counting noses as there are people.

Edward started: "Well, there's Mom and Dad..."
I interrupted, "No wait, it's easier if you do it this way: There are 7 in the Harrises, minus one because John isn't here, he's in Florida..." Edward looked amused and I realized that this was not easier.

"I'm making this far too complicated, aren't I?" I said. "I'd better let you do it, Math Whiz."

Edward grimaced and laughed, "No, you have to say the names or you'll forget someone." He then recited all our names and came up with 15.

While he was doing that, Mom was counting up family units, "There's us, (two fingers up), Katie and Michael are 4, (six fingers up), Sarah and Jon are 4, (10 fingers up) and Joe and Kristy (two more fingers up) , and you (looking up at Ed). Thirteen."

"Wait!" someone said, "You forgot Baby Joe and Maria. Fifteen."

"See, " said Edward, "You have to say the names or you'll forget someone." He looked smug.

While we were doing this in the kitchen, my son was walking around counting actual noses. "One, two, three..."

Kristy and Sarah asked him, "What do you do if people move?" Michael shrugged, "I say their names as I count, so I don't repeat them."

So, the consensus of opinion on the "correct" formula for counting noses is: Same the name and count them on your fingers.

(I'm just sharing this because I thought it was amusing. Maybe you had to be there.)