Friday, January 4, 2013

Christmas: An Excuse For Family, Friends, and Co-Workers to Slowly Poison Us

I was on my way to spend Christmas with my family in Georgia, and I stopped in a gas station not far from Savannah.  Given that I'd been on the road for over six hours, I felt an urge to use the facilities.  While performing the necessary tasks in the men's room, the janitor, who was busy cleaning, said "So, are you ready for Christmas, or are you ready for it to come and go?"  Initially, I was perturbed.  Problem one, the guy was being too damned happy.  I rarely approve of happy people, because I think they're unrealistic.  Problem two, he started a conversation with a guy standing in front of a urinal.  Major faux-pas.  Eyes forward, no talking, and tend to your business is proper bathroom etiquette.

But I overcame my initial annoyance with the guy, because I realized I had no idea how to answer his question.  After some thought, I answered honestly and said "That's not a bad question."  He thought this was hilarious.  I was somewhat disappointed in myself for unintentionally making a guy who was already unnecessarily happy even happier.  My inability to answer with a resounding yes was quite simple.  I'm not a Scrooge or a Grinch (although I am occasionally a grouch), but I have noticed a downside to the Christmas season.  Specifically 5-15 extra pounds.  It happens each year.

The evidence of this was confirmed earlier today, when my boss said "Hey, have you put on weight?"  If it's not already obvious, my boss has the tact equivalent of, say, Archie Bunker.  Or Oscar the Grouch.  Or Archie Bunker after he gets his ass kicked by Oscar the Grouch.  Or vice-versa.  The point is he has limited social skills.  But he's not afraid to speak his mind, and he wasn't wrong.  Still, I don't want to hear comments on my weight gain from friends, family, and co-workers.  This is like drug-pushers telling addicts they have a problem.  This was their idea.

Here's why it's their idea.  It starts in early December.  The biggest clients of my employer and the people who sell things to my employer (payroll provider, benefits provider, etc.) send us gifts for Christmas.  This usually means food, which is laid out in a common area to tempt all passersby.  Then the people I work with (including boss-guy) bring in leftovers from various Christmas parties.  The food in question is not exactly health food.  On the contrary, it tends to be assorted forms of sugar-coated lard drowning in cholesterol sauce.

Then I go home for Christmas, and it gets worse.  First step, dinner with the immediate family.  In Southeast Georgia.  Where the only thing we don't fry is the iced tea, and that's just because we haven't figured out how.  Yet.  Then the next day is dinner with the extended family.  Which is a potluck dinner.  In the South, that means a smorgasbord of waistline increases and myocardial infarctions waiting to happen.  Including ten different desserts covered in molasses or chocolate or both.  And iced tea.  Of course.  Sweet iced tea; loaded with sugar.  None of that pagan-style "unsweet" (shudder) iced tea.

As a parting gift, parents, aunts, uncles, etc. give me as much of their leftovers to take home with me as they can.  Old people are like that.  They pretend it's out of generosity, but they're really just jealously clinging to their remaining years of life.  They figure I've got quite a few more left than they do, so if lose a year or two I'll still have a few decades to play with.  Never mind that they're slowly poisoning me with the most unhealthy (but admittedly awesome) food on the planet.

So why not throw it all out?  Nuh-uh.  When you're raised in a culture that celebrates frugality (we use leftover pickle jars as drinking glasses), wasting all that food is sacrilege.  Besides, the food is just too good.  I can't resist, even though it could kill me.  Moth to the flame.  So Christmas alone results in double digit weight increase and multiple carb comas.  And it takes a week to go through the leftovers.

This means New Year's Eve is just insult to injury.  At precisely the moment I finish the Christmas leftovers, I'm beset by a holiday involving the eating of buffalo wings, fried chicken, barbecue, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and onion rings.  Not to mention imbibing lots of alcohol.  No wonder so many people make a diet their New Year's resolution.  Our greatest dietary sins are committed just prior to the end of the year, so our penance begins in January.  Fortunately, the raging hangover on January 1st is a not so subtle reminder that I need to start behaving myself.

So, yeah, Random-Guy-In-Gas-Station-Bathroom.  I was ready to indulge in an eating orgy for a week, AKA Christmas.  But I was also ready for it to come and go, hoping that the damage wouldn't be too great.  Yeah, boss.  I did put on a few pounds.  Truth is, I don't really regret it.  It's ironic that I choose what's considered by most Americans to be the holiest time of year to indulge in one of my favorite sins.  Gluttony.  I know I'll have to make up for it somehow over the next few weeks or months.  Maybe I did take a year or two off of my life.  But it was worth it.

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