I can’t think why I gain weight during the holidays. I’m sure to eat a balanced diet from every food group: food made with cream soup, food made with Cool Whip, food that combines vegetables or fruits with marshmallows in a creative way, and food that distant relatives make. I’m always careful to use garnishes, such as triple chocolate cake and pecan pie with discretion.
But here I am again, straining the seams of my purple puppy dog pajamas and forcing the elastic in my stretchy pants to call for reinforcements. To take the stress off my seams, I find I can generally go easy in the “food that distant relatives make” category.
What is it about seeing people only once a year that makes them think they can try out their experimental recipes without fear of retribution? Everybody has an aunt on a health food kick that makes everything with soy milk and seaweed or an uncle whose specialty is peanut butter casserole, but my family members have earned honorary placement in the Food Terrors Hall of Fame. (Their motto is “Smell This!”) With an eye toward family unity, I have always suffered through the asparagus jello of a forgotten time, but from now on, I’m taking a stand on the Aunt Betty's Rice and Raisin Balls.
I also find that I can resist:
Any dish that combines crushed corn flakes, cottage cheese, and butterscotch topping.
Any dish that blends chocolate chips with a random type of canned fish product.
Any finger food that leaves a film on my hands that requires turpentine to wash away the evidence.
So now I’ve concocted a secret weapon. The next time I’m faced with Sauerkraut and Strawberry Casserole or Better Than Roadkill Chili, I’ll whip the top off the mason jar I’m keeping for such an occasion.
“What’s in there?” the Captain asked when the mixture etched a hangman's noose on the inside of the jar.
I grinned. “It’s an Old Family Recipe.”
“Your great-grandaddy’s moonshine?”
“Better than that."
I unscrewed the lid and a passing fly hit the lineoleum like the top scoop of vanilla on an August ice cream cone.
"My brother’s carp bait.”