'Tis the season for overeating.
Or so it would seem based on the number of food-centric get-togethers we Americans partake of during this time of the year. Anyone who hopes to stick to his or her diet stands about as much chance as a snowperson who has been locked in a steam sauna.
No one can blame you if your resolve melts away in the face of this overpowering onslaught of seasonal goodies. At times such as these it's impossible to "just say no."
Even Superman can't resist the plethora of treats. It has been rumored that the Man Of Steel gains several iron ingots' worth of weight during the winter. Why else would he always be wearing those stretchy red and blue sweat pants?
Making things worse is the fact that the days are short, the nights are long and it's cold outside. Our instincts are urging us to pack on the fat even though many of us - yours truly included - don't hibernate. Although I have been known to go without bathing or shaving for several months.
After the autumnal equinox, the litany of food-focused gatherings is unending. They kick off with Halloween, which primes our digestive systems with approximately as much sucrose as would normally be found in 80 acres of sugarcane.
Like all responsible homeowners, my wife and I stocked up on sweet treats for an anticipated flood of trick-or-treaters. None came, and we had no choice but to consume all that candy ourselves. Darn!
But Halloween only whets the appetite for Thanksgiving, the season's first of numerous epic eating events. Thanksgiving Day finds many of us lolling about in a food-induced stupor, gravy drooling from our slack lips. We are unable to move except to loosen our belts, which, for some reason, have suddenly become much too tight.
The bizarre thing is, even though we may be full beyond capacity, should someone come around with some fresh, hot monkey bread, we will rouse ourselves from our gluttonous comas and mutter, "Yeah, I could eat. Gimme some of that!"
And of course Thanksgiving is simply a warm-up for the various Christmas gatherings we must attend. Some folks have innumerable Yuletide obligations such as the one for his side of the family, the gathering for her side of the clan, his work Christmas event, her work party, the traditional neighborhood bash, the thing we always do with that group of friends of ours, the get-together we have with the Fuller brush man and his family. The number of social events - and the calories - can add up rather quickly.
Then comes New Year's Eve, a festivity known for bubbly beverages and finger food. I always guard against overindulgence at such galas by doing some judicious pre-eating.
New Year's Eve is followed shortly by the king of caloric celebrations, the Super Bowl. Super Bowl gatherings are best known for delicacies that are wrapped in bacon, up to and including bacon wrapped in bacon. Hardened, life-long vegans have been known to crumble under the overwhelming bacon pressure that can be found at a Super Bowl party.
Perhaps one of the most insidious inventions regarding overeating is the advent of the potluck.
Back in the days of yore, "potluck" simply meant that you were lucky to have something in the pot. For some reason, people who were blessed with a lot of luck were also blessed with a lot of visitors. Whatever happened to be simmering in the pot would be shared, even if it was peas porridge and nine days old.
At some point it became a custom to bring the cooking pot along when invited to a social event. Those who had the tastiest food were also the luckiest because their pot would be emptied during the gathering. Said pot would then be much easier to carry home.
Potlucks soon morphed into competitions as cooks strove to outdo one another with increasingly delicious offerings. An arms race of sorts began, a war that continues to this day. We have all suffered because of this ever-escalating rivalry of the ravioli, the fracas over the fricassee.
How many times have you driven home from a potluck, moaning with the agony of an overfilled tummy? But who could resist that chocolate saffron truffle caviar cheesecake? And it would have been a crime to not to try that divine divinity that was made with eggs that came from hens who had been taught to recite French poetry!
All I can say is, it's a good thing that spring is only a few months away. Because these sweatpants are just getting smaller and smaller.