We’re driving over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house for a traditional Christmas Eve gathering.
I’ve already eaten several holiday dinners every day this week. With all the office parties, birthday parties, and generic holiday parties going on, it’s hard to even pretend to abstain. And there’s people dropping by the office with the assorted mixed nuts, chocolates, cookies, and popcorn, and even beer! I can’t remember the last time I felt hungry.
As we drive along, I wonder what can I do?
I can say, “no thanks, mom. I’d like a small portion. No, no seconds, thank you. Dessert? No, none for me, please.”
None of these will work. Like a game of chess I have to worry about what my words will do to my wife’s mother, my mil (mother in law for short).
I know I’m the only one with this problem, so let me describe it for you. If I say the wrong thing while we’re at their house it could make my life very stressful for weeks. If I really screw up I could make everyone upset, including my wife. Chances are good that they would never let me forget it, either. Heck, they still remember stupid things I said twenty years ago; things that I’ve long forgotten.
We’re parking the car. What do I do?
What’s the downside? So what if I eat too much? You know, besides getting bloated and fat?
The burden I face is made much heavier because my wife and her mother are incredible cooks. So it’s not that I’m turning down fast food; this is real gourmet dining.
What’s wrong with me pigging out?
As we gather our goods and start walking up the path, I think about Americans. We’re a big country. Not just Alaska and Grand Canyon big, we’re big and fat. Americans are heavier than any other nation. I don’t think that includes Canadians.
Americans are BIG. How did this happen?
Well’ we have lots of money, so we can buy lots of food.
We make our food in factories, for the most part, so it’s inexpensive.
Generally, it’s not high quality, so when we get it served to us in a restaurant we get a lot.
Plus, there’s a good chance the food factories put extra sugar and other “ingredients” into their food encouraging us to eat more.
And let’s not forget the other side of life; the fact that we are constantly bombarded with ads telling us to eat more, and that we are glued to our screens watching those ads instead of walking around our neighborhood.
All of these are known pathways to getting fat.
I know all of these paths, and I realize that what I’m suffering from is a brand new pathway. I’ve discovered yet another force upon us that makes me eat too much.
Yes, you may nod knowingly. Guilt is the icing on the holiday cake.
No matter your ethnic background or religious upbringing, there are few young women who can go through an entire holiday event without getting a dollop of guilt from her mother or mil. Guilt is probably more of a tradition than turkey and mashed potatoes.
Now, here I was, being guilted into eating. How?
You see, if I say too much or say the wrong thing, I’m screwed for weeks, perhaps years.
But if I keep stuffing my face and mumble things like “thish is deelishus” or “paff vu graffee” then it’s like getting a pass out of making conversation.
Even if I’m asked a tough question I have a way out. For instance, my mil may ask if I like her new hair style. I’ll just stuff more rib roast into my mouth and nod agreeably.
If I hadn’t been eating I probably would have said something really stupid like “I hadn’t even noticed” or “I thought it was a wig.”
We walk up the steps and into the room. I’m greeted by incredible aromas and a glass of wine offered by my fil.
Guess which path I choose tonight?
Happy New Year!