I’m not sure when the Christmas season turned into mandatory caloric maximizing. Maybe the Grinch sent out subliminal messages we heard in our sleep, but somehow everyone got the message “It’s Christmastime. We must eat, and eat fattening, sugary, butter-filled junk, every day. For weeks.” I should know it’s coming when Thanksgiving arrives, but I can stay in denial because Thanksgiving is a self-contained, one day event. Oh, there are leftovers, but the gluttony and indulgence is pretty much just the one big meal. So after Black Friday, I go right back to my Weight Watchers and lots of water, and tell myself I’m going to keep eating healthy and being strong. I’m within a few pounds of my goal weight. Just a couple of weeks, and then maintenance. It’s a lifestyle.
The cracks in the denial start when the gigantic box of baklava arrives at the office. Every year at the beginning of December we receive a box of sweet, flaky, chewy, gooey, nutty baklava from another office. It’s about the size of a dining room table. (Ok, I exaggerate. It’s about the size of an over door. Almost. It’s really big, though.) That box is nibbled on for the entire month of December by everyone in our office. It’s like the loaves and fishes. I think it multiplies. The little tiny 1″ by 1 1/2″ pieces are also 13 fat grams each – or to look at it another way – nine WW points. I only get 27 points for a whole day, so nine for something that I could (but of course wouldn’t) put whole into my mouth is a lot. And who could eat just one? So, I do the only reasonable thing. I stop counting points.
The denial really shatters when the cookie basket arrives. Our accountant has an annual tradition of getting together with other family members and baking cookies for a whole day. Really good cookies. Really, really good cookies. Then they divide them up, and make gift baskets (and I’m sure take some home as well.) We are blessed at our office to receive one of these gift baskets every year. 24 different kinds of cookies, several of each. Now, it would be RUDE to ignore all that hard work and not at least try the different cookies, wouldn’t it? And I don’t want to be a rude person. I try hard to be kind – so I really have no choice. I have to eat the cookies.
And it continues, everywhere I go. Christmas candy. Plates of cookies. Hot cocoa. Red and green Hershey’s kisses. Candy canes. I can’t walk into a bank, store or doctor’s office without some sugary treat being available – and once again, my good manners are my downfall. I can’t hurt their feelings by refusing.
But wait – Christmas itself is coming. Every family has Christmas traditions, and we are no different. One I cherish is Christmas morning brunch at Mom and Dad’s house. We overrun the house, which is much too small for all of us siblings with our kids and grandkids and now great-grandkids.
Mom bakes for days beforehand, and there’s always cherry bread, cinnamon rolls (with and without nuts), Mom’s famous buns, lefse (a Norwegian pastry) sometimes orange rolls, plus eggs, sausage, eggnog, juice… and my brother’s amazing kringla (another Norwegian cookie). I love it all, even though I wouldn’t eat cherry bread if you paid me, and lefse… well, last year for the first time in my life, I actually ate some cinnamon lefse, and it was ok. I really don’t know what everybody gets so crazy about, but it didn’t kill me. But nobody is getting me to eat the lefse with the goat cheese in it – tradition or not. I might be Norwegian but I’m not crazy.
But even Christmas (and I didn’t get to the dinner) isn’t the big calorie push. No, that is reserved for the end of the season. New Year’s Eve – that’s the biggie. We get together with one other couple, hang out, listen to music, play cards or board games – and our friend puts out enough yummy food for easily a dozen people. And this time I’m not exaggerating. Fruit, shrimp, desserts, finger food, hot appetizers, chips and dip, if you can think of it, it was probably there. If I didn’t list it, it’s because I forgot it, not because she didn’t serve it. And the worst part is we eat at least half of it, probably more. Other people get drunk on New Year’s Eve – we get fooded.
The one good thing is it makes New Year’s resolutions so easy. In fact I have my 2012 resolution done already: I’m going back to Weight Watchers till I lose everything I put on in December and get to that goal weight. Or they start selling Valentine’s Day candy.