The Gift that Keeps Giving

Well, I’m full of turkey, stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes, a myriad of appetizers, lasagna, and slices of ricotta, pecan, and Boston cream pie. My goal was not to eat too much on Thanksgiving Day, and I didn’t, since my attention was on cooking and serving my guests. However, all promises to myself about being moderate went bye, bye, the next day. It was as if I had an internal “pac man” that needed to be fed over and over. I also could not quell the internal dialogue that kept focusing on telling me to try the leftovers. I found myself walking in the direction of the refrigerator as if I had become part of a zombie cult.

I awoke Saturday, the day after my glutenous noshing to over-eaters guilt and a body that felt somewhat analogous to a hot air balloon! Where did all my good intentions go? Obviously they were plucked out of my conscious mind leaving me hypnotized by the contents of the refrigerator.

This is not the first time I have gone down this path. I have struggled with my weight for the greater part of my life. Ten pounds up, ten pounds down, fifteen pounds up, fifteen pounds down, twenty pounds up, twenty pounds down. The cycle keeps repeating itself according to where I am in life. I’ve actually achieved a good weight at times through being incredibly vigilant. I’ve done all the things that the weight-loss police have advocated, portion control, exercise, food diaries, etc. There’s no doubt that they work, but then something happens, like the birth of my children, divorce, being a care-taker for an elderly parent, earning a living, or having health problems. It doesn’t have to be a serious problem that precipitates over-eating. It could be going on a vacation, or celebrating a holiday.

I’ve tried a plethora of diets, and a lot of them work. However, I really want to have an entourage of individuals that makes sure I don’t deviate from my goals. After all why can’t I lose twenty pounds in three weeks like the movie stars that are showcased as models for the rest of us. They have babies and fit into clothes they wore as toddlers right after the baby is born. I look like I never gave birth.

I know some of you are thinking,”you can do it”, just write you affirmations, stop eating gluten, eat less, and walk more. And believe me I haven’t given up. But I do accept a certain reality. I will never be “sylph like”. I have gained and lost a tribe of people, so there are more of me around that you might recognize. By the way, enjoy your leftovers!

Black Friday benights a tradition

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving, a day dedicated to family, friends and food. I remember hours of conversation on what to make with my mother and grandmother and who was coming to dinner. I would try to straddle two worlds: The one my ex-husband lived in, which meant a traditional Thanksgiving, and another that demanded some Italian dishes.

Trying to make a traditional American meal while also satisfying two Italian women is close to impossible. And then there’s the issue of them possibly sitting next to a relative they didn’t like. You don’t want to be eating your drumstick while an Italian woman is giving you the “evil eye.” In the end you simply laughed at how close you were to being part of a soap opera. You tried to make everyone’s favorite dish but there was always someone who complained about not getting their creamed onions or puréed parsnips or “where’s the lasagna.” If it was up to my grandmother she would have stuffed the turkey with the lasagna. She loved to stuff everything and everybody.

The conversation always centered on the food, a missing relative, or periodic reprimands to the children if their behavior was not pristine. Of course there were also intermittent forays into the kitchen by my mother, who would give me the high sign to follow her. I knew what was to follow, which could be similar to the Inquisition. She wanted to know what I thought about my ex-husband’s family and how deplorable their manners were or didn’t I just hate how Aunt Mattie’s dentures kept clicking. The only way I could tear her away was to open a bottle of her favorite red wine and seduce her back to the table with its aroma.

I recall those days with great nostalgia. The time leading up to Thanksgiving was not muddled with ads for Black Friday. No one even thought about getting up from the dinner table to hurry to a store in the hopes of getting a bargain. It would have been looked upon as a total travesty. No matter how much you might have wanted to skip the whole gathering, you knew how important it was to your memory bank. Of course, retail was not one of the centerpieces of our economy at that time. But, I know if my mother and grandmother were alive today they would be have rosary beads in hand to pray for the people who left to the dinner table to go shopping.

I think we’ve gone nuts. When buying “stuff” takes the place of spending time with loved ones, then we have a real problem. The day after Thanksgiving used to be a chill-out day. You ate your leftovers and relaxed. Now there’s an incessant call to action from retailers. “Hurry, get your stuff while the sale is on.” The ultimate irony is there will always be a sale. But those who believe the hype might even go so far as to camp outside the store and cook their turkey on a grill.

What I’ve realized is that whoever came up with the name Black Friday hit the nail on the head. It is very black. And if we are going to continue this insanity then it’s time to wear black armbands and put a black wreath on the door to acknowledge the death of traditions.

I, however, am going to cook my turkey and lasagna, pour a glass of red wine and toast those those who made me realize what Thanksgiving really means.

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