For kids of all ages, this is the day to reopen research into the (heart) burning scientific question of how much turkey a single stomach can hold.

For those of us who are cursed with the habit of looking ahead, however, Thanksgiving traditionally invites us to peek around the corner at Christmas.

Perhaps this will be the weekend when the first gifts are bought. Perhaps it will only be the weekend when everyone gets asked what they want this year. In any case, that granddaddy of holidays looms.

With it looms the age-old habit of sending Christmas cards. And that spurs me to retell yet again the Children's Hospital Christmas Story. Its subtitle: Give to the Hospital Rather Than Sending Christmas Cards to Your Friends.

Just after World War II, as Washington and its population of office workers began to grow the way your stomach will this afternoon, friends of the hospital took a hard look at how holiday money was being spent in our community.

A recurrent conclusion: People were buying Christmas cards, and stamps with which to mail them, for coworkers they saw in the flesh five days out of every seven.

History didn't record the name of the Worker Bee who first thought of the way to redirect Christmas card funds. He worked at the Pentagon, according to legend, but nothing else about him is known.

Even so, his ingenious proposal has since been adopted in dozens of offices around the area.

Instead of spending money on cards and stamps, why not offer holiday greetings to coworkers in person and send the money saved to Children's Hospital?

In the generation and a half since the idea was first tried at the Pentagon, the Army and Navy have been among the leaders in collecting "redirected Christmas card funds" for the hospital. Bell Telephone Co. has been another major contributor in this manner.

But the idea will work just as well in an office of a dozen. This year, why not try it at yours? Your office's gift will keep afloat a community institution whose needs have never been more numerous.

To contribute to the campaign:

Make a check or money order payable to Children's Hospital and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW., Washington, D.C. 20071.