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We have mashed our potatoes, glugged our gravy, watched the Dallas game and taken on the immeasurable burden of a third slice of pie, limiting ourselves to a miniature scoop of ice cream to make up for it.
Now, we are wandering around a mall, exclaiming how we can’t believe it, but we’re hungry again. Our leftovers will have to wait for dinner; at present, we realize pizza will best help us express our burgeoning holiday spirit. We enjoy Chinese chicken sample appetizers and plan which candy bars to have grinded into our ice cream for dessert. It’s all part of turning jolly.
This is an effort to which I apply myself wholeheartedly, though, generally, not at the mall because I don’t make that kind of money.
My kitchen, however, contains food I have already purchased – in massive quantities. This is no time to spend less than $100 on a trip to Whole Foods. This is Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s – and each special day requires its own specific regiment of overeating.
This is winter, when I am only warm when I’ve got something in the oven, and when I pray that sit-ups delete cookies in a one-to-one ratio.
It would be rude to stop giving thanks for the bounty mass production has bestowed just because the Earth rotated, surrendering Nov. 22 to the night.
Today, there is just as much food available as yesterday.
Many yesterdays ago, however, people were expected to do everything for themselves: grow, preserve, pickle, ration. Such a system required great self-control; when a person ran out of falafel that was it. He or she died.
Nobody liked this. It so happened people preferred working in factories and stock rooms, earning a few bucks and getting a discount on stuff they sort of liked.
I sympathize completely. I would hate to have to take precise stock of my flour reserves before each and every blueberry muffin agenda got underway, no King Arthur and his unbleached promises waiting for me at Smith’s should I overestimate my coffers.
I couldn’t stand not savoring a second Sunshine Burger, ever aware that once I used all my sunflower seeds in preparing it, I would not have virtually unlimited access to more sunflower seeds.
In such a world, I would live off brittle spider plants.
The grocery store, however, invites me to cook and devour endlessly, or until I have something else to do, like read John Steinbeck novels or work, although it is seriously easy to flip pages in between peanut butter cookies, and office life encourages snacking almost more than it does working.
Anyhow, this is why I’ve stopped counting exactly how many cookies I consume for any given batch, and, of course, the accompanying sit-ups.
It really doesn’t matter how many I started with and how many remain once I’ve made myself all butter-chinned and sick. I won’t run out.
The economy is designed to never say “enough, already.” Doctors, I suppose, have taken over that role.
Nevertheless, even if our dietary habits remain abhorrent, it’s a different universe once we have given thanks. Now, we must give gifts.
From food courts to shoe stores, everything suddenly twinkles, even sweaters and soaps, things that ordinarily reflect relatively little light. I’ve noticed women’s hands shimmering, the result of too many candy sprinkles on their ice cream.
Glitter often takes the shape of snowflakes, which dominate storefronts, craft fairs, living rooms and, weather permitting, the main hill road.
For indoor flurries, children cut tiny triangles and circles out of folded pieces of construction paper, leaving a festive trail for an already tinsel- and pine-needle-stuffed vacuum.
Women begin cross-stitching mind-bogglingly tiny eight-pronged patterns and grown men yearn for giant, blow-up snowmen and snow globes to place between old sunflower stalks and the kudzu of juniper bushes in their yards.
I smother cookies in glistening gops of icing.
We go crazy.
But we do it because we love each other so much, almost as much as we love sparkles.
Every shopper tries valiantly to think in terms of love and not the scary Visa totals at the other side – the dark, e-bill side – of buying perfect presents for the people you think, at least in their own unique ways, are perfect, if a little on the chubby side.
Finally, I come full circle, a circle as all encompassing as my snow-woman-wonderful belly.
Love is lunch at one of Los Alamos’ cozy, restaurants – a short list of places most of us go to so often we know them better than our own kitchen tables. Love is an invitation to a friend’s home for dinner – so much better than a new CD or even socks.
Buy me an organic donut. Feed me as if the farm will never stop bursting with almond cheese. Let the endless satisfaction of the grocery store serve as a metaphor for the affection you and I feel toward one another.
’Tis the season for food and fitness club memberships, so let something rich and sugary be the ghastly paraphernalia of our beneficial trade.
E-mail Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a lunch date.