At the risk of sounding like Ebenezer Scrooge, I will
state unequivocally that I dislike the holidays. From sunup on
Thanksgiving until sundown on New Year’s, I am provided with
unparalleled high-calorie grazing options and numerous
chocolate-consuming opportunities. These memorable moments in munching
are the recipe for diet disaster.
The task of keeping my weight in check and my thighs to a
minimum is complicated by my “friends” who inconsiderately bake
calorie-laden treats, slap them on a festively decorated holiday plate
and then give them to me! They apparently assume that I don’t mind
having my derriere look like two humongous hot air balloons stuck
For 11 months of the year my nondomestic friends complain
about cooking. I see their messy kitchens stocked with Tuna Helper.
They consider a meal to be labor intensive if it involves stopping the
microwave to rotate the tray.
For 11 months of the year these friends are sane,
budget-conscious women, scouring the grocery ads and clipping coupons.
But when the holidays approach—seduced by enticing, glossy, close-up
magazine photos—their domestic genes froth up like cappuccino foam, and
they willingly spend several hundred dollars on one cookie recipe
alone. The ingredients are always exotic, and the directions are like
something out of a deliverance manual:
“Over a low fire in a copper-coated double boiler, melt 4
pounds unsalted, whipped butter and 1 package distilled Dutch
chocolate. Stir in 1 bag dehydrated lemon syrup, 1 cup imported
marshmallow paste and 2 tablespoons of licorice root extract.”
These recipes frequently have compound hyphenated names
such as Double-Chocolate-Fudge-Creme-Mocha-Nougat-Filled-Dainties and
require bizarre kitchen utensils that can be leased only from Martha
Stewart with several months advance notice and a large deposit.
“After roasting the chestnuts on an open fire, extract
each nut whole from the shell by placing them one at a time in the
teak-handled, brass-tipped nut-nippers. Raise the nippers in a smooth
motion over your head and while balancing on your left foot, gently
squeeze the teak handles with a pulsing motion.”
These are the kinds of high-calorie extravaganzas that my
domestically impaired friends frequently whip up in triple batches
during the holidays. As the ungrateful recipient, I have three options:
(1) throw them away; (2) give them away; or (3) eat them.
Option No. 1 is out. My mother has convinced me that no food may be thrown out for any reason.
I have tried option No. 2—giving them away—but then I get recipe requests I can’t fill or questions that make me look stupid.
Once, I lost track of the origin of a fruitcake and
actually gave it as a gift back to its maker. This culinary faux pas
left me embarrassed and the giver-recipient speechless (unless tears
count as speech).
This leaves option No. 3 by default: I eat them. I eat
all of them, frequently in one sitting, and then I lick the crumbs off
the festively decorated holiday plates. Afterwards, I slink to my scale
like a guilty dog with its tail tucked between its legs. Criminals are
no more terrified of the electric chair than I am of my bathroom scale!
By mid-December my cellulite gets so thick and dimply
that from the knees up, my pantyhose appear to be stuffed with cottage
cheese. When I catch a glimpse in the full-length mirror (which I hang
horizontally so I can check my girth from thigh to thigh), I am
disgusted with myself, with my friends and especially with those
enticing holiday recipes.
This year I have a preholiday request for all
well-wishing friends: If I’m on your Christmas list and you are baking
holiday cookies, please, please, give them to someone else!
If you still feel charitably inclined, purchase a few
boxes of SnackWells, empty them onto a festively decorated, lick-proof
holiday plate and leave them on my doorstep.
I’ll be in the bathroom, cowering by my scale.
Jackie Macgirvin is a free-lance writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri.