Running the yearly Gantlet of Gluttony
Urrrrp!So, here we are, heading into the final lap of that all-you-can-eat festival of face-stuffing overindulgence we call the “Holiday Season.”Holiday from what? Self-control?No, it’s more like a holiday from feeling guilty about overeating, as we spend a solid five weeks cramming everything in sight into our gaping maws (or, to use a term I love, into our pie holes).Cookies, candies, turkey, nuts and fudge. Prime rib, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes (with marshmallows on top, thank you), some more fudge, a baked ham, almond toffee, sweet rolls, candy canes, a bucket of gravy, a stack of flapjacks and, thank you, I do believe I will have another helping of apple pie … with ice cream, please … and maybe some of that hot fudge sauce.Whew! So much for breakfast.What’s for lunch?On the Twelfth Day of Christmas my true love gave to me … a Pepto-Bismol, as I gnawed on the bones of the last of the partridges and looked around to see if there were any pears left. Nope! Stripped those trees clean, we did.It starts on Thanksgiving, a day that is startling in the simplicity of its focus on sheer gluttony. On Christmas, we’re well aware of the religious aspects of the holiday. On New Year’s, we’re encouraged to come up with a few resolutions to be better people in the year ahead.But on Thanksgiving, all we do is eat.It’s a perfect beginning to the Gantlet of Gluttony. We spend the third Thursday in November stretching our bellies in preparation for the weeks ahead, the office parties, the holiday balls, the family gatherings, Christmas Eve Dinner, Christmas Breakfast, Christmas Dinner … .And right about now, when we as a nation balance on the delicate cusp between obesity and morbid obesity, I find myself thinking about the curious nature of food.How strange it is that we need to eat three times a day. Oh, I know, we can certainly go much longer between meals, but, in a peaceful world with an adequate food supply, people seem to want to eat at least three times a day.How curiously inefficient. It’s as if your car had a 2-gallon gas tank.And, no matter how much we try to enlarge our personal fuel tank (and, believe me, we Americans have done one heck of a job of enlarging those fuel tanks that lap over our belts), we still need to fill ‘er up three times a day.From the dawn of time, societies have been classified on the basis of how they get food. Primitive people were hunter-gatherers. Then came agriculture. Then came Ronald McDonald.Once, most people spent most of their time and effort in providing food.Now, most of us have moved off the farm and into the city – but look around sometime and see how many businesses in any city are devoted to food and drink. Combine grocery stores, restaurants and bars (OK, the bars may have more to do with sex than with food) and the numbers are staggering. We can’t go more than a few hours without eating – and we can’t walk more than half a block without going past a feeding station.It’s all so strangely mechanical, isn’t it? Think about breathing – great wheezing sacks in our chests that we have to keep filling and refilling with air. And the great greasy sacks and tubes below that we have to keep cramming full of food.Pleasant thought, isn’t it?Have I ruined your appetite?If I have, you can thank me, I’ve done you a favor.You’re welcome.And, by the way, if you’re really not hungry … can I have that last slice of pumpkin pie? No point in letting it go to waste.Andy Stone is former editor of The Aspen Times. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.