The season of eating is upon us.
It starts with Halloween. Short and under the cover of darkness, our gluttony whets its whistle. We try to camouflage our naked desire for the foil wrapped sweets with costumes and children, but if someone peeked in the window they would see us with two Twix hanging out of our mouth like walrus tusks. We buy five pound bags of our favorites and then tell our spouses Hush, I bought those Almond Joys for the kids. The whole holiday is only a few hours and it’s over. But we want more. Pumpkin Spice is our new obsession and we’ll put it on anything. It effectively functions as a dinner bell.
Then a simple flip of the calendar brings Thanksgiving. The beast is loose. We don’t need to hide in night. We are fully committed to spend a day with our distended bellies bumping up against the dining room table. We will shut down businesses, financial markets, and general operations to feast. No frills, no presents, no costumes. It is all about food. There’s attention paid to all aspects of food consumption: dishes, silverware, tablecloths. Recipes are made and kept secret like family heirlooms. Your family probably doesn’t have a crest, but it has a sacred Jello mold. And nobody makes it better! With cranberry stains speckling your shirts, your family declares this is the gravy soaked hill we are willing to die on.
After spending an entire weekday with a tablecloth tucked into our pants, it seems perfectly reasonable to extend the gustatory celebration to one week. From Christmas to New Year’s it is a gourmand’s dream of fatted shrimp, sugar plum fantasies, candy canes, houses made out of cookies, and roast beef. Our waists expand and our guilt sets in. We hide under the cover of religion. I converted our kitchen into a fudge shop because of Christ. How dare you question why I’ve made fourteen batches of cookies!
We concede it is a lot of food, perhaps more than we need. So once again, just like during Halloween, we knock on our neighbors’ doors and offer food instead of taking it. It closes the loop on the season of eating, which commenced with taking and ends with giving, but always was about sharing, laughing, and being together.
My kids are outgrowing Santa. It makes me sad. Now, the only way I can get them to go along is if we go on pet night to take the dog.
I have a lot of fond memories of our Santa visits. The first time I took my son to see Santa he was about two years old. He shared my excitement to see Santa but when we got up to actually talk with the Big Man, my son suddenly agreed that talking to strangers was a bad idea and this was as good a time as any to start obeying that rule. I held my son’s hand and we approached Santa on his Christmas throne. I remember this like it was yesterday. When Santa asked my son what he wanted for Christmas my son replied with earnestness and sincerity –knickknacks. I don’t know if Santa needed a translator considering his yuletide magic, but that is what my son called fruit snacks.
It delights me to no end thinking of the stories that man can tell. When my son was in kindergarten he was friends with a little girl in his class. On an early dismissal day I decided to take them to see Santa. The mom of the little girl asked me if I would eavesdrop or somehow get her to tell me what she wanted because she was keeping it a secret for Santa. Apparently she had heard about Secret Santa and was taking the whole thing quite seriously.
I devised a plan that on the way there they could practice what they were going to say in case they got starstruck or nervous when the actual time came. It worked! She told me from her buckled seat in the back of the car that she wanted a horse with a cowboy on it and when the button is pressed. Here my son interjected, “It self-destructs.” She paused and looked at my son with a mixture of confusion and mild disgust. “No, the horse puts its legs in the air and makes the horse noise.” She mimed the action and provided the whinnies. My son insisted that it would be better if it shot missiles like the Star Wars X- Wing Fighter he had in mind. Despite our excursion to planet Mars, I returned to Venus and asked where she saw this horse. She replied “I made it up.”
I wonder how many imaginary toys Santa has heard about.
My oldest is fourteen. The only reason he is going this year is because he loves his nine year old brother and the chance of hijinks with the dog at the mall are pretty high. My nine year old has big plans for Christmas and they involve Nerf. He belongs to an organized group of 8-10 year olds that have Nerf wars once a week. Before the battle begins, there’s a lot of discussion of weaponry. The boys all aim to improve their arsenal with Santa’s help, and they discuss which of the latest Nerf guns will best suit their needs. Among them is a weapon that can shoot sixty feet and it has become a bit of a legend among the group. I have no idea how or why but they believe this gun is called “The Big Wang.” I just can’t wait for Santa to hear from several boys between eight and ten that tops on their list is a “Big Wang.”
I’ve tried to tell my son that I don’t think that’s what it’s called, but he and his cadre insist there is a legendary Nerf by such a name. So I’m afraid this Santa visit may be our last, but I think we are going to go out with a big bang, or a wang as the case may be.