Merry holiday overeating!

We’re coming up on the Christmas season, which in the countries where most Shapelings live means that lots of people, Christmas-celebrators or not, take their one big break a year and go on vacation or visit their families. Every women’s magazine and lifestyle section in existence is having a feature on holiday overeating right now, and why should we be left out of the fun just because we think eating is okay? After all, in a lot of ways, food-heavy occasions like the holidays are extra fraught for fatties (even when those fatties practice HAES and self-respect). So I hereby present the Shapely Prose guide to dealing with holiday overeating.

1. Expect some. I have no illusions about the fact that I will eat a LOT of Christmas cookies — undoubtedly more, in retrospect, than I will wish I’d eaten. I could make this into a huge psychodrama where my willpower has failed me; I could inscribe my cookie eating as “compulsive” and flagellate myself for it; I could bewail my complicity in a culture of overconsumption. Or I could recognize that like many people, fat and thin — like most fat or thin Christmas celebrators who aren’t on a medical or weight-loss diet, I’d wager, and some who are — I am going to eat lots of cookies and go home with a little bit of a stomachache. Whatever. They’re cookies, not uranium.

2. Eat emotionally. People have been celebrating and bonding over feasts together since the dawn of human civilization (and maybe before). Negative talk about “emotional eating” sends the message that a rumbling stomach is the only valid reason for a meal. That might be true if we were all eating gray pap at solitary tables in Camazotz. But, fat or thin, food makes us happy and eating together makes us feel connected and thankful. Go with it.

3. Be good to yourself. Amidst all the holiday bounty, one thing you won’t see me eating this season is meatball subs (though there will very likely be some). I discovered at an earlier family Christmas that a) meatball subs are delicious b) they make me feel so sick you can’t believe. I like tasty food but I am not a sucker. The only obligation you have as far as “watching what you eat” this holiday season is your responsibility to your own health and comfort. Don’t make yourself crazy, but at the same time don’t make yourself ill.

4. You don’t have to be the fatbassador. Whatever your relationship to your fat and your family, whatever your family’s relationship to your fat, you don’t have to represent all fat people to them. Eat food you think is nice — don’t eat to say “fuck you, I’m not dieting.” Avoid food you don’t want to eat — don’t abstain to say “look, fat people aren’t gluttons.” It’s tempting at family occasions to try to send messages with what you choose to eat and not eat, but you end up punishing yourself to make a point that probably won’t even get heard. If you want to have this out with your family, use your words; if you want to avoid it for the sake of family harmony, you are hereby off the activist hook for the season.

Feel free to use this thread as a place to grouse about family — or let us know your favorite holiday traditions (like, say, avoiding family?).

70 thoughts on “Merry holiday overeating!

  1. And now I want to make cookies with those little radiation symbols on them…

    That would be awesome! And could totally be done, either with frosting or as slice-and-bake type cookies with a pattern in.

  2. I like that fatbassador idea. There are more holidays that I can remember with the mom commenting, or at least glaring, about everything that I eat. Fortunately, my dad won’t let her do that anymore. Plus, their food is nasty-everything is low sugar, low fat. My dad has a stent, and my mom only eats junk when nboody is looking. Even more fortunately, I’m not going to visit them (thank god, I’d hate to fly with this weather and all the plane delays), and am going out for dim sum, which I will enjoy and not even consider feeling guilty about.

    It’s been kind of disturbing reading health blogs, most get the idea to relax and not freak out about “indulging”, but some are definitely advocating strictness, uptightness, and no joy. Seems like an open invitation to a binge (the strictness and no joy, not the relaxing and enjoying yourself, even if you eat past full)

  3. I think I’ve intentionally/unintentionally taken on the mantle of Official Holiday A-hole. This is not a great time of year for me ( I’d love to be able to be in a semi-lucid liquor-infused state until mid-February for a multitude of reasons), and it drives me batty to see endless posts on other message boards about how people love this time of year because people are “a little bit nicer”. Shouldn’t people aspire to be that little bit nicer all year round? Good gravy, it gets me so bent. I’m far too cynical to be hand-holdy/love my fellow human-y at this stage of my life. I think my one goal for 2009 will be to find a mountain lair a’la the Grinch so I can glower at the towns below.

  4. I’m Official Everytime A-Hole so I hear ya, Jane. This is another very good reason to stay adequately fed, though — so you can keep “wittily acerbic” from slipping over into “total douche.”

  5. Great post! I always get super-nostalgic this time of year, remembering the magical Christmas dinners with all the fixings at my Grandma’s house. I’m lucky that my family never really attached moral values to food, but I always had trouble at the holidays because the food was so good I couldn’t stop eating. (Or I felt like I had to eat as much as my uncles and cousins, instead of paying attention whether I was hungry) Luckily I’m learning to get over those behaviors.

    I’m staying home for Christmas this year, across the country from my family, so we’re having a not-so-traditional dinner of baby back ribs and cornbread…plus sugar cookies from Grandma’s recipe – wouldn’t be Christmas without them!

  6. And could totally be done, either with frosting or as slice-and-bake type cookies with a pattern in.

    Ooh! Ooh! The cookie has to be bright green, at least for the frosting.

    This time of year I very nearly turn my house into a mountain lair, and I find myself much more kindly disposed to my fellow humans, mostly because I’m not dealing with them directly. I did my shopping online, I’m off work, my pantry is full-up, and my closest blood relative is 2,000 miles away.

    I realize this is not the most realistic scenario, but seriously, mountain lairs are excellent places to relax.

  7. FJ: …keep “wittily acerbic” from slipping over into “total douche.”

    Heh, too true, too true. To be more on-topic-esque, the holidays were never a food minefield in my family, thank goodness. My sister-in-law’s someone who is possessed with low-fat/no-fat crap being in everything, but she keeps her yap shut when it comes to eating at mine and my parents’ house. My sisters bought my nephews the Wii Fit, and I am absolutely dreading the first time they use it and the horseshit BMI thingy pudges out their Miis because the nephews’ favorite swipe to take at each other? How “fat” the other is. *sigh*

  8. I really needed this post! Between the holidays and my upcoming period, I feel like I’ve been eating nonstop and I’ve been a little too busy to exercise, so I’ve found myself slipping into the, “maybe I should skip breakfast mindset.”

    This is a good reminder that this, like everything, is temporary, so maybe I should cut myself some slack.

  9. These days I admit to having the urge to be a fatbassador at family functions, esp since my mom is dieting again (after I’ve explained the realities of dieting/weight/health to her, and she *agreed* with me), and my dad is not dieting which means he’s perpetually bashing his body and laying the self-hate on obvious and thick.

    But I know that this is only going to stress me out…so I’m just sharing the holidays with my fiancee and his kids these years, who are these thin fast-metabolism types who think the concept of not eating full-fat, full-salt, full-sugar holiday meals is foreign and frightening. They don’t judge my body, and I always get pleasure watching them eat platefuls and never gain an ounce. They’re my own little biology experiment ;)

  10. FJ, I love everything about this post.

    And it makes me really grateful for my mom. She grew up during the Depression, and grew up hungry and having to eat a lot of stuff she hated. And she was damn certain no kid of hers was going to go through that. She didn’t know anything about “intuitive eating,” but that’s more or less how I was raised. No guilt about eating, and no guilt about not eating, either–if she baked a batch of cookies and I didn’t happen to have an appetite right then, no pressure to have one to be polite. To the extent that any foods were “forbidden” it was only because it’s more fun to have certain things be a once-in-a-great-while treat.

    She did a terrific job with me, foodwise.

  11. I’ll add one about the fatbassador:

    Don’t worry about people watching you eat. (a) They probably aren’t, and (b) Fuck ‘em if they are.

    This is so big for me, I am so conscious of eating publically. As out-and-proud about fat as I supposedly am, I still find myself sneaking food.

  12. First, I love you for casually dropping a Camazotz reference into a blog post. Nerd power!

    Second, I’m going home to the house where women have to say “I shouldn’t have this” when putting gravy on their mashed potatoes or “I guess I can treat myself to a little dessert” while cutting a sliver of pie. It’s the most joyless, guilt-ridden, issue-laden thing where the women ARE paying attention to what they are eating AND what everyone else is eating. Happy holidays!

  13. Camazotz pap FTW! \o/

    I am so freakin’ excited about Santa coming tomorrow night. Maybe I’m on a sugar rush from the cookies. If so, then God bless ‘em, every one!

  14. Deborah Lipp, that’s the biggest deal for me. I faked nausea just Friday at my office party to avoid eating in front of people who are too pretentious to even care I exist let alone what a fat plebian sticks in her mouth. Heh.

    In brighter news, this holiday season is the first in which I haven’t acted a fool around Christmas cookies. Amazing, isn’t it, how when you’re not starving, sugary goodness is just good not OMGTEHBESTTHINGEVARIMUSTBESICKNOW? (Thanks, SP!)

  15. I think I went to the perfect Christmas party on saturday night.

    When we walked in, we were offered our choice of drinks ranging from champagne and harder liquors to sodas (diet or not) to sparkling water and there was a range of appetizers. The appetizers were carefully identified so we would know what we were about to bite into, but none of them were pointed out as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ depending on how much fat/calories they were packing.

    Sitting down to eat a fabulous homemade meal, there were all sorts of people at the table. They ranged from very fat to very thin and every size in between. We were all offered seconds on anything we liked (I took a second helping of that incredible curried roasted butternut squash soup and Mr. Twistie dug into a second bowl of goulash with abandon), but nobody was pushed to have more than they were comfortable eating. Dessert was offered to everyone, but not pushed on anyone who didn’t want it, no matter what the reason.

    What’s more, I didn’t hear a single woman at this party pick on her body (or anyone else’s, either!) all night long. The closest anyone came to diet talk was Mr. Twistie reminding the host that he needs to watch his blood sugar, so even though that German chocolate cake looked delicious, he’d have to pass on it.

    Every holiday meal in every home should be like this: generous, celebretory, comfortable, and entirely lacking in emotional mine fields.

    Oh, and as this one was, it should be followed by an awesome jam session where we sing Piggy Moo’s greatest hits.

  16. I’m grateful that my family always enjoyed their holiday meals without a whole bunch of fat-bashing, probably because most of us were, and are, still fat. These were days to be merry and enjoy each other’s company. Sure, the old people would talk about who died, who is about to die, and their ailments, but they do that at any get-together. *g*

    Honestly, though, Thanksgiving and Christmas are two days where I don’t eat a whole lot, because the food is filling and I spend more time socializing. This year, I will be going to an aunt’s house who lives about two hours away, and she makes a pretty good meal. I will bring chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies (thank you Toll House) and just relax.

    Those that are obsessed with being horrified or offended at people actually wanting to eat this time of year without being told what greedy pigs they are can go jump in a frozen lake.

  17. Oh you guys, I am going to have a horrible Christmas. My b/f of two years broke up with me two days ago, which was a big surprise, and Christmas was our holiday (not because either of us is Christian, either). Today is the anniversary of our physical relationship, and “our song,” if we have one, is Happy Holidays (mostly because when he sings it it makes me laugh, so he kept doing it).

    But hey, no food angst, at least. Everyone knows how I feel about FA, and sometimes they pick small fights with me about it, but they’re all tiptoeing around me right now because I’m moping and crying all day. Works out pretty well for me on that front!

    :(

  18. I have to say I almost dread seeing my FIL, though he’s normally a wonderful, funny, and interesting person. Now he’s a formerly wonderful, funny, and interesting person on Weight Watchers. This man went from looking like Santa (seriously, it’s awesome to have a Santa in your family) to looking flabbily emaciated. He spent Thanksgiving talking about how many points this that and the other thing were, and how he could only have a biscotti for dessert because he allocated his other points for this other thing. Seriously, it was all he talked about over dinner, and I wanted to punch him. That, or talk in detail about my gestation, because if we’re going to get that boring I can at least get gross.

    He’s at least not mean, and has thus far not made a comment on my weight. But any time he talks about his, I’ll talk about mine (I went from skinny to “obese” due to PCOS, so weight for me is an effect of my health status) and HAES. Maybe someday he’ll listen.

    Heck, even his son (my hubby) has taken to telling his dad flat out that “WE DON”T CARE”

  19. *hugs volcanista* That’s really really hard.

    I saw my family at Thanksgiving, and only had to deal with one totally unprovoked lecture from an aunt about dealing with my endocrine system (like I don’t know more about how my body works than she does!).

    For Christmas, my mother-in-law mostly talks to me about what she’d like to see my husband change (she wants me to make him shave his beard off (never!) and start wearing suits (never!)), and to my husband about what she’d like to see me change (i.e. lose weight). But I can always pretend not to have understood because of the whole language thing *evil grin*

  20. There are some folks in my family who make fat free cheesecake for Passover and baked “latkes” for Chanukah. Why, why, why can’t we celebrate wonderful days with traditional foods? Those baked latkes taste like weeds. Heaven forfend someone consume oil or cream…

    I just pass on the fake foods and bring the real stuff myself.

  21. (hugs) to volcanista. I hope you end up having a better holiday than you ever expected.

    Families and food: for a family that was perpetually dieting (because none of them actually ever worked), it never managed to be an issue over the holidays, probably because there we had too many other issues to deal with. Mom always made many batches of Christmas cookies, and making them and then eating them are among my fondest holiday memories. And yes, I have made sure to get all the recipes. The only reason I don’t make batch after batch of cookies myself is that there’s only the two of us, and as much as I love them, I get tired of them after awhile.

    That’s the thing that all these “restraint” articles always miss: food, especially at the holidays, isn’t just fuel. It’s family and connection and culture and memory and they’re delusional if they think we’re going to disconnect ourselves from all that.

    Here’s a link to a recipe that has to be a contender if you’re looking for chocolate uranium cookies: Giant Chocolate Toffee Cookies. I’ll be making a batch tomorrow, but I do make them smaller than suggested (rounded tablespoons) and bake for slightly less time and they come out great. And they’re rich and delicious and everything a chocolate cookie should be.

    I’ll be serving them with eggnog with some brandy or rum or bourbon in it, or maybe coffee with eggnog.

  22. Thank you for giving us permission to eat emotionally. I have never figured out just how you’re supposed to eat unemotionally. Are you supposed to just turn off your feelings before you open your mouth? Are you supposed to do an emotional inventory before every meal? Ach! That’s just crazy thinking. Much better to relax and enjoy!

  23. Ashley–My dad also looks like Santa even though he has been enduring nutrisystem for about 9 months. Most items at their home is Splenda and butter substitute–even for the holiday! I hate hearing holiday food (or any food) commented on while I am enjoying it. ..especially since I have started letting go of the guilt associated with eating!!!

    Twistie–That sounds like an awesome party!! I hope the Christmas Eve dinner I am hosting can have the same feel.

    I wanted to add what this site has done for me–I am into whole hippie/natural foods thing and but I have still had a diet mentality even though I eat butter and such. Since I generally watch my carbs, I decided to eat potatoes, beans, more fruits, chocolate ect if and when I wanted to. Guess what–I did not even gain weight and I was in a much better mood with more energy (even my husband noticed). My body really likes to be at this weight NO MATTER WHAT I TRY AND DO TO IT! ( I wear a size 8/10 but I live in California where that means I should be on a lifetime diet and definately should not be enjoying buttered potatoes without hating myself!)

    So thank you Shapely Prose! I will be having happy holiday eating because of you and that is a great Christmas gift. :)

  24. I just had a conversation with a co-worker on the elevator on our way up to the office. she was bemoaning the fact that she was going to gain 5 lbs over christmas, and could not go to the gym. My response: ‘just let it go.’

    As for baked latkes, a similar story, a friend was talking about a handy way to make donuts (use pillsbury biscuits and deep fry) and how delicious they were, when someone commented that she should try baking them to make them less fattening. Another friend responded with “doesn’t that make them just biscuits?”

  25. (hugs Volcanista hard and tight)

    Want me to send my cat to yowl in his ear?

    Take care of yourself, and know that we’re virtually holding your hand.

  26. Oh, volcanista, that sucks. I’m really sorry.

    I’m skipping Christmas, I think. I have an invite, but I’m feeling deeply cynical about holidays, and I’m not sure I can take the decorating, or the peppiness, or her s.o., or the food obsessing which is bound to go on.

  27. I miss having gumbo for Christmas. I haven’t had the chance to overeat for the holidays since we moved away from my husband’s family.

  28. Because I come from a fat, serial-dieting family, Christmas was always a license to binge. Not only would we have turkey with all the trimmings the house would be filled with all manner of things to snack on: Chinese figs, dates, Turkish delight, a gigantic tin of Quality Street chocolates, (a noble British institution), crystalised orange and lemon slices, After Eight mints, mince pies, Dundee cake, you name it. Admittedly I can’t actually stand half of those things, (I loathe Christmas Pudding too), dW but I used to love seeing my dad bringing in all the tins and boxes. I used to buy little edible Christmas decorations for my little tinsel tree – foil-covered chocolate coins and tiny umbrellas that were wrapped in striped foil with little red plastic handles. I wouldn’t eat one till Christmas morning and I still love to start Christmas

  29. …..oops! I hit the wrong button before I finished my post! What I was going to say was I still love to start Christmas with a bit of chocolate
    though the bastards stopped making the umbrellas and I can’t have a tree because my cats would either climb it, eat the tinsel, or both.

    This Christmas Eve I’ll be making chestnut and stilton pie accompanied by roast root vegetables and peas for one of my (fat) friends. There’ll be champagne, and chocolate truffles and rubbish television. Christmas day, it’s just my mum and I, and she’ll be doing the cooking – something with seafood, since I don’t eat meat and she hates turkey. I bought little baked cheesecakes for dessert. There will be no guilt or recrimination but there will be the Dr Who Christmas special (and probably more chocolate). I consider myself very lucky to be avoiding the kind of drama some of you are going to be suffering. New Year will be spent with some of my other friends, none of them fat and none of them dieters either. So, mercifully, no food angst or hand-wringing for me.

    Volcanista, I’m sorry to hear your news. There should be a law against dumping people at Christmas. Big hugs!

  30. I love Christmas food, especially all the savoury stuff, but at the moment I’m suffering from a bout of the ‘flu and have had no appetite at all for the last 48 hours (I’ve eaten the grand total of two clementines and two crackers today).

    I’m hoping hard that I will be able to eat all my favourites, but my husband has been sick for a week with the flu which doesn’t bode well for me…

    Hoping that the rest of you can enjoy some of the good food on my behalf!

  31. Buffpuff, I would love you forever if you let me know the recipe for chestnut and stilton pie.

    (holds out recipe bowl)

    Please, Miss, can I have another?

  32. Jae: “I really needed this post! Between the holidays and my upcoming period, I feel like I’ve been eating nonstop and I’ve been a little too busy to exercise, so I’ve found myself slipping into the, “maybe I should skip breakfast mindset.”

    Same here. My PMS just happened to coincide with the family get-togethers. But really that’s perfect, isn’t it?!

    And the egg nog. I have to have the egg nog once a year. Jen, I live in southern California so I feel ya. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one drinking egg nog down here.

  33. This is shaping up to be a sucky Christmas for me. It’s the first one without my Dad, who passed away last spring. He truly loved the holidays and it’s going to be especially hard not having him there Christmas morning. Seeing the empty spot where his stocking hung just breaks my heart.

    Adding to the stress and general crappiness, my daughter (11) had her tonsils and adenoids out last week. It had to be done – she had tonsils the size of grapes, and throat infection after throat infection. Doing it just before the start of Christmas vacation was the only option to keep her from missing an entire week of school. So it was a necessary thing all the way around – but now she’s in pain, feeling lousy, whining about the “worst Christmas ever” and blaming me for all of it. If her goal is to guilt-trip me into feeling like an awful mother, she’s succeeding. Joy.

  34. A few years ago I decided to stop going home for Christmas. My family isn’t too bad, but no matter who hosts, Christmas is a crowded, loud, hot day and I am always stressed out by it.

    So now I spend Christmas day in my pyjamas playing video games and eating leftovers.

    I will probably toss a sparkly bath bomb in the tub and make Sskipstress soup for an hour or so.

    I might take advantage of having no obligations and spend some time at the gym. Or maybe I’ll read a book or take a nap or knit and watch TV.

    Since Christmas Eve is always kinda crazy (I sing in my church choir and this year I’m playing percussion at 2 services), it’s nice to spend Christmas day relaxing.

    I’ll go visit my family in January when I have a 3-day weekend and I can get some quality time in with each person by visiting from house to house rather than being overwhelmed by having all of them in one too-small place.

  35. Oh, man, Volcanista, I’m so sorry. I know what it’s like to be dumped around the holidays; I can remember a couple of years ago looking at “Our First Christmas Together” ornaments and bawling my guts out, even though I’m Jewish.

    “Baked latkes”? That’s way too reform even for me. Latkes need to be cooked in Crisco! I almost never use Crisco the rest of the year, but since I’m snowed in (!@#% Portland not having enough snow plows to handle our blizzard), and I had potatoes, matzoh meal, eggs, and onion powder in the house (and C. was able to nab us some applesauce, blessed be), I plan on eating latkes until I can’t stand the sight of them anymore or until we can actually leave the house, whichever comes first.

    But since we’re snowed in, it’s unlikely I’ll be exposed to any diet talk. I guess there’s a reason for everything.

  36. I’m scheduled to fly into PDX tonight, Meowser, if my plane isn’t canceled (fingers crossed; flights seem to be getting in today). My parents have promised to break out the chains and pick me up at the airport – they’re only 15 minutes away, thank God – but tomorrow snowbound latkes sound like a brilliant idea.

    I have to say, I know it’s causing tons of problems but part of me is looking forward to seeing Portland snowed in like that. My dad snowshowed downtown to work yesterday. Unbelievable.

  37. Same here. My PMS just happened to coincide with the family get-togethers. But really that’s perfect, isn’t it?!

    Seriously *lol*. As if there weren’t enough potential aggravating factors about these days! Though last year I had a cold and PMS, and I had to go to an out of state wedding, so…I’m counting my blessings that it isn’t last year!

    Volcanista, I’m so sorry about your boyfriend’s douchenozzle treatment of you. A friend of mine was dumped by her boyfriend last year on Christmas day, and she was devastated so I can imagine how you feel. She met a guy this summer though that she’s really happy with so, if it is what you want, I’ll be hoping that you follow her pattern!

    Christine, I’m so sorry about your dad and about your daughter. For what it’s worth, I don’t think your a bad mom; I’m sure you know much better than me, but at 11, kids just don’t get a lot of things, but they think they do which makes it so much worse. Here’s hoping that things turn around (((hugs)))

  38. They’re cookies, not uranium.

    I’m jumping on the “this is full of WIN” bandwagon. I’ll probably whip this line out at some point (especially around my brother’s girlfriend’s obnoxiously-body-conscious-to-the-point-of-dysmorphic mother).

  39. I just may use the cookies/uranium line in the next few days. Woo!

    That is, if I can say it. I’ve got tonsillitis and an upper-respiratory infection (or maybe just a cold), and I’m hoarse after about noon. So I won’t be overeating, because I can’t swallow enough food to overeat. Although I will totally try.

    Christine, my best wishes to you and yours. I may be following in your daughter’s footsteps, but I certainly won’t guilt-trip anyone over it.

    Also, virtual-stranger-hugs to volcanista.

  40. volcanista, I was going to offer to come visit after we get back, but SM’s idea was a) better and b) faster (though also c) COLDER). I’m sorry he was such a dingleberry. I am punching him in my mind for you.

  41. That’s a great point about emotional eating – I eat when I’m happy, but it’s entirely different from the out-of-control miserable eating that I do when the depression is taking over (or I’m just upset about something). Even the foods I choose are different. Who would have thought it would be so hard to distinguish between happy and sad?

  42. I plan on eating latkes until I can’t stand the sight of them anymore or until we can actually leave the house, whichever comes first.

    Meowser, I have a very soft spot in my heart for latkes (and great memories of Bloom’s in the East End of London, which is, alas, no more), and that sounds like an ideal way to spend the winter. No snow here, yet, but who knows? Yum. And I agree, cooking them any other way than frying sounds obscene.

    I’m fortunately going to be over at my dear, sweet mother-in-law’s, which is OK by me. She sort of half-heartedly mutters about her need to diet other times of the year, but she’s not foolish enough to mention it over the holidays. My mother was the food-angsty one – comparing what I ate and what hubby ate, wondering out loud why he wasn’t as fat as me, and just not getting it – and she’s no longer in a position to invite anyone for the holidays. The rest of my family is mostly away, which is cool by me as their Christmases, while food-friendly, also tend to be too crowded to be comfortable for me (and the TV is Always. On. Even when nobody’s watching. Why, I have no idea.).

    Volcanista, that really sucks. I hope you manage to have some kind of a Christmas after all. Take care of yourself. (((hugs)))

  43. Thanks so much, everyone. I’m hanging in there. SM, I can’t wait to visit and freeze off all my digits! And FJ, you don’t live very far from me, so you can visit me ANY TIME! If you wait until after I get back from SM’s, I should even have cats to entertain us. Because otherwise, we all know I am super boring.

    I’m not even mad at him (yet). His reasons were decent ones. Still sucks ass, though.

    And all the latke talk makes me want latkes, even though my barely-jewish family never has them. I love those things!

  44. I don’t even know what Latkes are and I want some.

    My favorite christmas tradition is ending up in an emotionally and physically exhausted heap at the end of the day on christmas and thanking providence that it’s all over. No rest, extra tired, kids and mother stressing me out, nobody actually listens to what I want and don’t want and when they do listen they think I don’t mean it, (this year’s telling my husband let’s please not buy each other any gifts this year because we’re short of money from the time I was off work and we spent too much on the kids but no, no, no, he thought I didn’t mean it and went and bought me presents anyway and now I have nothing but stocking stuffers for HIM and it’s freakng christmas eve, but no, I’m okay, really. I wanted to go shopping TODAY) and my mother’s drama all the time and running to and fro trying to get to everyone’s house.

    And I’m typing this from work, where I do not want to be and have no choice. But at least I have a job.

    As to good traditions, we like to watch the Invader Zim “Most Horrible X-Mas Ever” special, which we did last night. Also, driving through the big light display at Hartwood Acres on the way home from my uncle’s house on Christmas.

  45. I’m from the Caribbean and we have awesome Christmas traditions. Lots of good food, family spirit, and music. My mother makes an awesome baked ham with rice and baked candied sweet potatoes and amazing Christmas cake. I try my best not to overeat at Christmas but it happens anyway. And I was dropped a bomb a couple days ago that my doctor said that I need to mind my weight and my parents, namely my father, is disappointed. And he’s coming to Christmas dinner and I know he’s gonna be pointing out what I’m eating the whole time and I’m going to be uncomfortable.

  46. Apparently, my husband’s greedy selfish brother (as opposed to the dumb one who’s mean to his wife, yes, I got the pick of this litter.) is going to stop by today and pick up the presents we bought for out nephews and in-laws, which means they will open them on Christmas, instead of next week when we come to visit, and I get deprived of the joy of watching their reactions, which is, by the way, my absolute favorite part of the holiday. But there’s no arguing with GSB.

    I have to work tonight. (Drive very carefully if you’re out on the roads, your local hospital employees can tell you how bad traffic accidents are on Xmas Eve.) But tomorrow, it’s Christmas with the extended family, which I love, because they just don’t seem to care about body size as long as they can fill you full of bloody marys, mac and cheese, and fried turkey.

    After all this talk about them, I think I may need to make some latkes. In a brilliant bit of perhaps misguided multiculturalism, my very Catholic grandmother used to make them at Christmas. They are incredibly delicious. Though, the fact that they were right next to the ham on our table is pretty wrong. Sorry jewish shapelings, apparently, we didn’t know any better.

  47. Like Meowser we’re well and truly snowed in… although I did make it to work today and only waited for 10 minutes for the bus.

    My family can’t make it over to my house for Christmas eve supper and board games. I can’t make it to their house for Christmas day festivities and I don’t know if we’ll make it to the farm for my boyfriend’s family celebration Christmas day.

    It’s a very sad white Christmas in Portland for me. Maybe tomorrow my parents will take the Jeep over to my side of town and I can actually see someone I’m related to.

    Last night I put up our little faux tree and all the ornaments while my boyfriend was working and I was in bed when he got home. He was so excited he came in and woke me up to say thank you for putting the tree up, it was pretty cute.

  48. T-minus 5 hours to family descending on my parents’ house. Mom agreed to host Christmas Eve for her side of the family this year since Grandmother doesn’t have the energy any more. Since we do food in a buffet style, it’s much easier to wander around and chat with family as everyone munches on sandwiches and cookies (we’re really low maintenance for Christmas). There will be a few people hovering over the buffet table mentioning how they really shouldn’t be eating any more, but they are easy to ignore.

    It’s dinner with Dad’s family tomorrow that has the potential to go badly. One of my aunts is a nutritionist, and she can get really passive-aggressive about mentioning very loudly what foods are and are not good for you. Hopefully everyone will be so taken with my cousin’s new baby (only 2 weeks old!) that no one will bring up diets.

  49. Twistie, and any other chestnut-lovin’ Shapelings, here’s my festive recipe, as requested:-

    1) Heat 2 tblspns olive oil and half an ounce of butter in a large pan, add one chopped onion and as much garlic as you fancy and cook till transparent.

    2) Add half an ounce more butter and a pound and a half of mushrooms, (I’ve used a mixture of shitake, oyster, white, chestnut and ceps this time around), and cook for approximately 5 minutes, till softened and starting to give off juices.

    3) Add 4 fluid oz of Guinness or some other stout, half a pound of cooked chestnuts and a tblspn of molasses sugar; bring to boil then turn down and simmer for 15 minutes.

    4)Stir in 4 oz of crumbled Stilton or Shropshire Blue cheese and spoon into a 2 pint pie dish.

    5) Top with puff pastry, (I use ready rolled as I make lousy pastry), brush with egg yolk.

    6) Bake for 25 minutes until golden on Gas Mark 6, (don’t know how that translates to US ovens but it’s the high end of medium)

    Serve with seasonal veggies.

    Ta-dah!

  50. buffpuff, that sounds SO GOOD. I will have to give it a try next holiday season.

    I realize the point of this post was to anticipate what was going to happen over Christmas, but I didn’t read it until now, so I’ll describe what did happen over Christmas. Basically I’m 32 years old and only one year of my life did I ever not eat myself sick over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, this was not that year. I wish I’d read this post beforehand to ground myself a little, because I love everything in it. At the moment, however, I hate myself for eating like that and am pretty disgruntled about the whole thing. It’s like half self-punishment (“you want too many cookies, you pig? I’ll show you too many cookies!”) and half some chemical situation where once I eat too much one day, I can’t keep myself from doing it the next day too.

    At the same time, however, I know the best way to not continue feeling like crap is to let it go and tell myself that even if there were way too many of them consumed, they were just cookies and will make their way out of my system soon, and I’ll feel better if I eat in a more average, healthy way in the coming days, so long-term it’s nothing to stress about.

    And more than that, the problem is not cookies anyway (I’m insane about Christmas and love decorating, shopping, listening to xmas music, and most importantly baking tons of stuff that I’m told my husband’s coworkers actually look forward to receiving, but despite this my brain has been whispering that maybe the answer is not to “have that stuff in the house” next year)–or candy, or potatoes, or Chex mix. The problem is that I don’t trust myself around food 360 days a year, so I overeat on those 5 “free” days (and end up doing so on plenty of the other 360 days too, for that matter). Clearly this is not working for me.

    So yeah, Christmas-obsessed me is kind of bummed with how the holiday turned out this year. But never mind, maybe 2009 is the year I’ll finally develop some semblance of a normal relationship with food.

  51. Oh- so grateful for my dad’s side of the family right now. Dad and his siblings are full-blooded Mexican, and most of his siblings married Polish spouses. Food is a MAJOR part of holiday celebrating. We had Christmas Eve dinner at my cousin’s house. There was an abundance of delicious, “unhealthy” food there and I don’t think I ever heard anyone mention a diet. I certainly never heard my cousin telling her three daughters to watch what they ate- she was too busy worrying that everyone present had as much food as they wanted. I know if I’d gone to my aunt and uncle’s house on Christmas Day I would have been handed a tostada as soon as I walked in the door, and my aunt would keep offering food until I was ready to fall asleep on the table. They’re not emotionally demonstrative- the food and celebrations are how they show love. “Feliz Navidad. You want a tostada?”= “We love you. Glad you came.”

  52. This was the first holiday at my inlaws’ house that I didn’t feel weird eating, so I have all of you here to thank. I didn’t feel anything, actually, it just was what it was and I didn’t apologize. I also didn’t eat a whole ton, in my estimation, so not getting the added helping of guilt dolloped on top of that was refreshing. I may just have to do the same thing every year!

    There was tons of diet talk, however, of course, from all sides. My SIL again talked about how she was going to go to the gym more often and just generally talking down about her beautiful self, encouraging other people to then weigh in about their own diet strategies. I finally could take no more when my husband’s aunt (who incidentally has looked the same for about fourteen years, now) said something for the nth time about how she hadn’t eaten any carbs that day so could have a cookie but she wouldn’t be eating anything else for the rest of the day. I said, rather loudly, “Good lord! Can people give talking about their diets a rest, already? Do it, don’t do it, whatever, just own it and stop obsessing over it!” I’m probably the poor deluded fat girl for it, but you know what? I’m not obsessing over other peoples’ views on my personal body image. It rocked.

    Happy holidays!

  53. Gee, I wish I’d read this before Xmas. I gave myself a little of my own “fatbassadorship” and started a discussion about Oprah and her article in O. All the women (and some men) in the room jumped on me for dissing Oprah. Of course, my brother-in-law is a doctor who said, “what’s wrong with promoting diet and exercise.” My mother-in-law interrupted the conversation for her pre-dinner prayer ritual so I decided to let it drop. But I fumed about it internally.

  54. I wish I’d read this before Xmas too, but I was trapped with family in the midwest hinterlands at the time. My MIL has an INSANE relationship with dieting and food. She is never NOT on a diet, and from what my husband tells me, it has been this way her whole life. All the while she looks about the same to me, though I know her weight has fluctuated somewhat since I’ve known her.

    Her crazy, obsessive, constant monitoring and cataloguing how many calories and grams of fat every single item contains became much more noticeable to me as I’ve put on some weight recently; now it all feels like a personal attack though she’s been like this forever. The best part is, half the time she’s literally reading aloud the calorie content of cookies or something, and the other half she’s making us all caramels and fudge as gifts! Makes a lot of sense.

    Here’s the weirdest fucking thing: we ate dinner at her house one night and she literally gave the men LARGER BOWLS than the women. I mean, she was serving soup as a main course, and it was obviously quite healthy and low in fat. And even though there were dozens of bowls of all sizes, she instructed me to get down a certain size for the men and a certain size for the women, and to only give the women two ladles of soup vs. three for the men. And this includes men who are several inches shorter and at least 20 pounds lighter than me! I thought she’d clearly gone round the bend.

    And you’ll be happy to know that three ladles of soup fit in that smaller bowl juuuust fine.

  55. It’s quite after time for this comment, but I wanted to say thanks for this post. I am going off to FL to see the extended family soon and we have a bunch of skinnies, skinny-used-to-be-fatties and dieting fatties who try to help us confirmed fatties with nutrition and exercise tips, even though we are in our FORTIES and already got the memo, thanks. I need to remember to stay calm and not worry about being the fatbassador (though I may try being the fatbadassador) and just eat what feels right to me without apology.

    I also bought some smokin’ bright colored tops *in my correct size* to wear so that I can be sure everyone gets to see me in all my hot pink glory (ooh, that sounded dirty LOL).

  56. This is a gem of a post. I love it, especially because it got me thinking about Christmas in June.

    I’ve always spent Christmas with my mum’s family, mostly because my parents only live a couple of blocks from my maternal grandfather and step-grandmother’s house. It’s a family of thin Ukrainian Mennonites (excepting me, my dad, and my sister), and, lordy, is there ever FOOD. There’s extra gravy, heavenly squash soup, and traditional sour cabbage rolls that are slow-cooked for several hours in a pound of butter. And I’ve never even noticed anyone give me, my sister, or my father a sidelong glance for eating, probably because they’re too busy concentrating on their own plates. ;)

    One diet tip that always seems to crop up in magazine holiday eating guides is to watch what the thin people are eating, and eat the way they do. My thin relatives all tend to eat to their heart’s content through all five courses of dinner, and then to take leftovers home for midnight snacking. The idea behind the diet tip, I guess, is that thin people are naturally doing *something right* that fatties need to learn. But the reality, at least in my family, is that cabbage rolls only come around a couple times a year, and OMG DELICIOUS.

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