Since the early part of this year I have been trying to lose weight and to keep off whatever weight I have lost. This is mostly because my wife has always retained her perfect weight and I do not care to represent a local version of Beauty and the Beast. But, the holiday season represents a particular kind of dieter’s hell.
At any other time of year, work represents a time and place where one can stay on a low-calorie diet that includes dry turkey sandwiches on a bun.
I still bring this same lunch with me every day but during the holidays, as soon as I arrive at work, I am bombarded by every type of goodie made for and by mankind. The teachers’ room is filled with cakes, candy and colored morsels I can’t categorize. The people who bring in this food make it harder by coaxing people into trying what they must have spent hours producing. If I ever say “No thank you,” I am condemned to cold stares for the rest of the New Year.
Another problem with this time of year is that my wonderful and talented wife makes sugar coated cashews, pecans and peanuts to give out to friends and family. The scent of my house during this time of year keeps me in a perpetual state of salivation. It is so rich that I swear all I have to do is inhale deeply and I put on a couple of pounds. When I finally surrender to my cravings I am reminded that one sugar coated nut is too much and all the sugar coated nuts in the world are not enough.
The holiday season is also a time when many people come over to visit. It is one of the reasons I actually enjoy this time of year. But, because of the holiday, they always bring something else to eat — and it is never diet foods. The foods they bring are filled with more calories than the entire population of Slovenia could imbibe in an entire month. Like my colleagues at school, if I would ever dare not to enjoy what they bring I would never see these people again. Not that this would be a bad thing for some of my relatives, but that is another story.
Gifts are usually something that you can eat. Chocolate is a favorite. Especially Christmas chocolate. The kind of chocolate that oozes with oils and melts in your mouth to coat your insides with sugars that will soon be synthesized into fat.
Spirits are another favorite gift this time of year. This is not a bad thing unless you consider that low-calorie wines and cordials do not exist. Festive drinks are invariably thick with sugar and taste like liquid milkshakes and melted candy. One can’t taste the alcohol but one can definitely feel what it does to you the next day.
Parties and dinners are held throughout the holiday season. As soon as Thanksgiving is over one has little time to lose any added bulk before the capacity to acquire new bulk is ringing the doorbell. There are Christmas shopping parties, office parties, let’s-visit-our-relatives-that-we-haven’t-seen-in-a-year-and-eat-more-of-their-food parties, Christmas week parties, Christmas Eve parties, Christmas Day parties, Christmas leftover parties.
Christmas is over by barely a microsecond when the cycle begins again immediately with New Years celebrations. These come on quick and are culminated by the grandfather of all parties at the turn of the New Year.
Like I have done every year since the holiday season came to mean more than Santa Claus and the receiving of gifts, I will be found during the early morning of Jan. 2 with my eyes shut tight standing on my bathroom scale hoping that some sort of a miracle has occurred. As my eyes are closed I remember all of the goodies that were stacked high in the teacher’s room, my wife’s remarkable candies and nuts, the multiple visits by family and friends, the delicious foods of the season and the non-stop flowing of spirits at all of the holiday parties.
Then I open my eyes to the awful reality that my stomach makes it impossible for me to see the numbers on the scale. I lean forward, suck in my newly acquired gut and stare down at numbers that fill me with horror.
Then I realize that I have a whole year to train before the holidays come around again.
Jim Fabiano of York is a retired teacher and writer.