don’t do this (a “just for fun” post)

We get conflicting messages about food this time of year. Yummy-looking recipes pop up on one side of my computer screen, and on the other I see dieting tips for “getting through the holidays without gaining a pound.” I don’t really have any advice of my own to add other than this: no matter HOW you choose to approach eating this holiday season, don’t force your approach on someone else.

A long time ago, when I was teaching at a public middle school in a middle-sized town in Indiana, one of my fellow teachers came up with the great idea of having a holiday lunch potluck. We were a somewhat divided set of teachers, with a few very quirky ones in the bunch, and others who were just downright disgruntled much of the time. We didn’t do much all together, except share a lot of gossip in the workroom and fuss about problem students. The teacher with the potluck idea was one of the few cheerful ones, and surprisingly, everyone got on board. (It probably helped that she planned the potluck for a day when we would teach in the morning, send the kids home, and then have an afternoon of on-site meetings. Most probably thought that the potluck would spill over into the meeting time, cutting it short.)

That morning we carried our crockpots and goodies into the library, placing them on a large table where the librarian (they were still called that back then–no “media specialists” yet) had set up a complicated system of heavy -duty extension cords so we could plug all the crockpots in. We perused the table of goodies and looked forward to a delicious lunch.

Surprisingly our local health nut had offered to set up more tables and spread out the offerings just before lunchtime. We thought it was just because she had her last period free.

Um, no.

When we walked in the library at lunchtime, drawing in deep appreciative breaths of the rich smells, we discovered placards in front of each dish. At the top of each placard was the name of the dish–helpful–and at the bottom were listed the calories, fat grams, and serving size of it.

That part was not so great.

Some dishes even had little notes: “Watch out–high calories.” “You’ll want to go lightly with this one.”

This wasn’t New York City. Gourmet cooking had not made many inroads into our town. The tables weren’t covered in salads (unless it was three-bean or potato) but in comfort food.

GOOD comfort food.

Needless to say, this dampened the mood, and our health nut received a lot of dark looks.

SO, over-indulge or hold back this holiday season, that’s YOUR decision.

Just don’t make someone else feel guilty for doing either.


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