Monday, December 10, 2007

'Tis the Season to Eat, Drink and be Merry

That's just what I don't need. More food. What's more, rich fancy food. But it's that time of the year when it seems we all entertain and are entertained. We even go out to eat in fancy restaurants. Since I am, in theory, always watching what I eat, in a continuing weight struggle, around this time of year I try to avoid some of these events that involve food and so far I have been successful, with only one event I couldn't avoid.

But this coming week will probably be the worst for me this season. I have a lunch or dinner every day this week, Monday to Friday. Worst of all I am the hostess on one occasion, with 16 people for lunch. The truly idiotic thing is that all eight people at Monday's lunch will be at my house three days later. Also I'm not talking about people I see once a year, but people I see almost every week. Why do we feel compelled to socialize even more in this season? If we didn't see each other regularly it might make some kind of sense.

Another thing we do, because we have been brought up correctly, is take the hostess a gift. Flowers or chocolates or some such thing. Plus we do what I call the wine exchange. I do this too and I don't even drink. We all take a bottle of wine with us and since the hosts always have taken care of the wine, they end up with motley bottles of wine in their collection. You have to be very careful too not to take to someone's house a bottle of wine that they brought to your house. Well I suppose you could always say you knew they liked it so brought some for them. However they probably got it in the wine exchange from someone else and have never even tasted it.

So this week, when I am hostess, no doubt someone will bring me chocolates which as you know, being the Achilles' heel of JMB, I am foregoing this year. Plus I have indeed taken care of the wine. But if I survive this week I think I am fine until Christmas Day when I have ten for dinner. At least when the lunch or dinner is at your house you don't insult the hostess if you don't eat everything. But then you have the problem of leftovers. It's just a minefield of temptation one way or another at this time of the year.

I think next year I should go on a retreat for the Advent season, surfacing only for Christmas Day. But this week I will be out and about, eating more than I should, drinking non alcoholic beverages and being very merry.


Political Umpire said...

The wine exchange is an interesting one (and one which you describe very accurately and entertainingly). I have encountered the following situations, on which I would be interested in your ethical guidance:

1. I always take a nice wine to friends X, because I know Mrs X is a wine buff and appreciates it. They never open it, however, but offer either non-alcoholic drinks or, occasionally, a very cheap supermarket wine (I do not believe Mrs X, with her evident knowledge, is unaware of this). Should I continue taking nice bottles, but unsubtley hint they open it, take an inferior one (the contrast with previous offerings would be noticed), or take a different gift the value of which would not be evident (thus enabling me to economise discretely if I so wished).

2. Friend Y is not a wine buff, or even much of a drinker at all. He took a bottle to Friend Z's house, nonetheless, following convention. Friend Z is a wine buff, and served a nice bottle, but when Y was leaving Z gave him his bottle back, saying 'we didn't drink it, we'll have it next time we come to yours'. I happen to think this was ungrateful and patronising of Z, though he wouldn't have intended it that way.

3. This one comes from the Times, not personal experience: couple A go to restaurants frequently with couple B. Couple A don't drink. Couple B do, and always order a very expensive bottle, then at the end of the evening say 'shall we split the bill?' Suggested remedy was for couple A to find a fiendishly expensive non-alcoholic thing on the menu and see if the offer continues.

One final thing JMB - putting up pictures of nice food makes me hungry. It also makes my lunch look unappetising by comparison. Are you being ethical by doing so? I suspect you are; you have, after all, no knowledge of who might be reading these posts when. Alaistair Cooke in his Letter from America always began with 'Hello', never 'Good morning', because, he explained, "you never know when you are going to be repeated".

rlbates said...

Enjoy yourself, JMB.

Janice Thomson said...

Even if one is not counting calories the season really makes one realize that many have perverted palates. The amount and type of food ingested at this time of year is staggering. Between that and fast food the rest of the year it is no wonder Western populations have become more than a little overweight.

Dave said...

I don't think that we will ever understand why we are so inclined to "festivate" (should have been a word they used on Seinfeld!) but needless to say that I would be quite dissapointed if we didn't live it up during this season.

I know what you mean with the eating, drinking and gift giving and regifting... Oh well... Such is the season! :-)

Have a great one!

Eurodog said...

I think that sounds like a fun week.

Vic Grace said...

I too have to watch my weight and find that if I avoid the desserts, and eat only a little of the high carb foods like potatoes I usually do not gain weight over the holidays. I love sherry but I can't have much of that either but a dry wine is okay.

Cariboo Ponderer

I have put wordpress to recognize your blogspot site now so I think it would be okay if you wanted to comment on anything. Have a great and skinny Christmas in case I don't get back to you before then

Ellee Seymour said...

Yes, this is a tricky time of the year for us foodies.I would like to lose a stone right now, why I guess I will put it off a while longer.

Carver said...

I hope you have a fun week and you can always worry about the calories next year. My problem is I don't know which year I'll start dealing with the calories. You made me laugh when you said you were all brought up correctly and take the hostess a gift. I used to remind my daughter to take something for the parents, when she would tell me about some house party at friend's parent's house when she was in undergraduate school. She would say, mom, you of all people should know I was brought up to do that. My mother was actually a lot better at the social graces than I am, so I was always afraid my daughter wouldn't remember to do things that were automatic when I was coming along. Enjoy your friends and festivities.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Jmb,I was in the process of commenting to you, but we had a power cut, so I forgot what I wanted to say.

Enjoy the party season.

Ian Lidster said...

Doesn't the food stuff get a bit loathesome this time of year? Does for me, too. And, I'm glad I gave up alcohol many years ago, so at least I don't have the residuals of that to drag me down.

leslie said...

It really is more difficult at this time of year and since I'm still trying to lose, the temptations are more noticeable than ever. Everywhere I go I'm bombarded with chocolate, chips, egg nog, alcohol, more chocolate, etc. But this week I can honestly say I conquered the temptations but am absolutely gritting my teeth wanting wanting wanting! Have a wonderful time with all your friends this week!

Liz said...

I tried to comment yesterday but Blogger went funny in the middle. And now I can't remember what I said! I'm sure it would have been sympathetic though as I, too, fight the same battle involving food watching.

Anonymous said...

Well at least you are popular - try being a single man who has lost ALL the family friends and see how you like getting NO invitations to anything at all...

Mary said...

Hi JMB - eat, drink and be merry - plenty of time for the old diet after Christmas! Mary

jmb said...

Hi PU,
Answers coming up in a post.

Hi R,
I'm sure I will, if I can only keep my hands off the goodies!

Hi Janice,
It is a ridiculous thing we do at this time of the year. Here's hoping I'll be good.

Hi Dave,
Thanks for dropping by. I don't know what the answer is to this one.

Hi Vic Grace,
You too are treading the minefield I see.
Thanks for doing the techie thing, although I think have managed to change my ID to my blogspot blog and not my wordpress one.

Hi Ellee,
Another foodie? Join the club. If only they didn't tempt us with such delicious things. After Christmas, back to the diet.

Hi Carver,
OK, let you and I worry about the calories in the New Year. No point in feeling guilty about it.

Hi Crushed,
Nothing much you can say to this post. I know you are not watching calories. Thanks, I will enjoy.

Hi Ian,
You and I both can avoid the alcohol, but I don't know why I can't resist the food. Hang in there.

Hi Leslie,
Sometimes we can resist but there is always a bit of resentment that we missed out. Yesterday we had lunch with a woman who is trying to gain. We all offered her some poundage. Thanks for the good wishes.

Hi Liz,
That Blogger! I wish you success in the food avoidance at this time of yhear.

Hi Muts,
I wouldn't say I am popular. I don't view these invitations as indicating that.
Now Muts, you have lots of blog friends to keep you from being maudlin at this time of year. Let's have a virtual drink together although mine will be bitter lemon. We should have had a BP Christmas party in Second Life.

Hi Mary,
A long time no see. I hope all is well in your part of the world, you with your neat garden and me with my tatty one here. OK, after Christmas, it's a promise.
Have a very happy holiday season Mary.

Thanks to all for visiting and commenting.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Great post, jmb, truly summing up the good parts, bad parts and temptations of the season. I know the bit about the "motlry bottles of wine" but I am always happy if someone replenishes my supply! Here people don't get quite as stressed out about Xmas as we seem to in Eng-speaking countries!

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Why do we feel compelled to socialize even more in this season? If we didn't see each other regularly it might make some kind of sense.

I detest every last bit of it.

jmb said...

Hi Welshcakes,
It is a lovely time of year but somehow we do seem to do all this unnecessary socializing which adds to the stress and the pounds.

Hi James,
Now I know you will celebrate the birth of Christ but don't be too curmudgeonly about the rest. The commercialism yes but the renewal of friendships no.

julie said...

With all the eating done, maybe you will be able to do some walking exercises to burn the calories. And while you're at it, I hope you can take photos of Sunsets and sunrises because I tagged to you to do a Photo Meme. I sincerely hope you don't mind. Here the link:

Enjoy your pre-Christmas feasts,

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Fab post, jmb and you really bring home the illogicality of it all. But at this time of year, you can't beat the seasonal jollity so you may as well join in! Be very merry, jmb.

Stockholm said...

Eating turkey and Christmas "bûche" is the only thing that makes Christmas worth it, at least in my opinion...
In France, we have "papillottes". That's chocolates with fancy wrappers and crackers inside, so you can pretend to eat them to get the crackers ! Or, if you've lost every kind of food-related shame (like me), you just eat the chocolate and give the crackers to the kids...

Merry Christmas everyone !

jmb said...

Hi Welshcakes,
I am joining in and trying not to get too stressed about it all.

Hi Stockholm,
Thanks for visiting me and leaving a comment. I'm sorry I can't return the favour as there is no link to you.
Merry Christmas to you and enjoy those papilottes which I have never seen but sound like my kind of thing.