In Training

 

By Joe Rector

I’m sitting on the couch and watching the rain fall. The weather is too cold and raw to travel outside for some kind of activity like mowing the leaves for the eighth time or taking the dogs to the park. Instead, I’m doing my best imitation of a lump. At the same time, I’m stuffing my face with one food after another. Yep, I’m in training for the holiday eating. I’ve done it for years.

Mother began her food preparations soon after Thanksgiving. She stood at the stove and stirred her fudge concoction. It always looked to be a chore as she mixed the stuff the way I’ve worked concrete; however, I’m positive that her fudge was tastier than my walkways.

She also made peanut brittle and a candy she called “divinity.” I never cared for the stuff, but neighbors who received a container of it raved.

Other snacks littered the table. Loaves of pumpkin bread and zucchini bread were stacked in one corner. Rice crispy treats stayed fresh in a large Tupperware container that was so old that the plastic no longer was clear. The top was worn from hundreds of openings. Another huge tub was filled with “nuts and bolts,” Mother’s recipe for Chex mix.

Always believing that dessert was an important item for holiday meals, she baked at least two pumpkin pies. Days before Christmas dinner, she baked a white cake and then iced it with coconut and cream sour cream icing. The whole thing stood almost a foot tall, and it sat in the refrigerator so that the cake could soak up the icing and make the entire cake a heavenly delight.

The real eating began Christmas morning. When we were kids, Mother made pancakes and bacon for breakfast. We left the table in a semi-diabetic coma caused by rivers of syrup on stacks of carbohydrates.

When all family members arrived that afternoon, dinner was spread across an extended table, on kitchen counters, and even on a table on the screened porch. All filled their plates with mounds of food that included turkey, ham, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and rolls. Not a tinge of green was visible on most plates; people swore that vegetables only took up room that was better used for heavy food.

Everyone finished and searched for a comfortable chair or couch where they could moan until sleep overtook them. In no more than half an hour, the kitchen was again alive with people looking for dessert. After that, the crowd thinned and left a mountain of dishes to wash and tons of leftovers that we attacked before going to bed Christmas night.

I don’t eat as much as during my youth, but I can still put large portions away. With a month of training on all sorts of snacks and extras, I’m ready to attack that big meal, loosen my belt, and have a holiday nap.

May your Christmas be filled with plenty of food, family, and fellowship. I’ll see you at the YMCA with the arrival of the new year.

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