It's my fault. Somewhere around 1990, I started to get fat. Up till then, I could eat and drink what I wanted and I'd be fine. Sure, I gained a little bit each year, but I started out so skinny (134 pounds when we first got married) that I spent my 20s and 30s just trying to get up to a fighting weight.
In 1990, however, I crossed some invisible line of no return, and suddenly my waistline started growing so fast that if I stood very still and you tried not to blink, you could see my belt tightening. One day I looked down and couldn't see my feet unless I craned my neck forward. That day I vowed to watch what I ate, do regular sit-ups and drink only in moderation. And I've kept my vow year after year, at least for the first 10 months.
When the end of October rolls around, though, eight weeks' worth of complete and total gluttony begins. It starts with Halloween, when the kids bring home sackfuls of candy. I start raiding their bags for mini Snickers bars, or grab three or four of those little Nestle Crunches, and before I know it, I'm washing down movie-theater sized Caramello bars with a 2-liter Coke and looking for more. A few weeks after Halloween, when someone offered me just a single Hershey's kiss, I was enraged. It was almost an insult. (I ate it anyway. I didn't want to be rude.)
Thanksgiving follows soon after, hitting while I'm still trying to come down from my sugar high. I start on the day itself, filling myself with so much turkey and fixins that I waddle away from the table like an Emperor penguin. If I tripped and fell, I'd burst like a water balloon. We always have mountains of leftovers, so for two weeks I consume huge piles of stuffing for lunch and sweet potatoes with marshmallows for breakfast. I'll shove a bit of apple and pumpkin pie into my mouth every time I pass through the kitchen.
By Christmas Day, of course, I've reached full behemoth weight, and my pants will no longer button. (Not a problem. I've learned to adapt: I'm usually wearing a sweater at this point, and as long as I don't walk too fast, the zipper alone will keep my trousers up.) When I approach the Christmas dinner table, I look like a sumo wrestler preparing for a championship match.
The week from Christmas to New Year's is sort of a cool down period. There's a whole other bird carcass to dispose of, and usually some ham, too. After working those digestive muscles overtime for so many weeks, I'm afraid I might pull something if I were to quit cold turkey. So I continue to eat at a brisk pace with a staple of my diet being, ironically, cold turkey.
The eating and drinking spree ends abruptly on January 2. On that day, I get up, look in the mirror and sigh. If I've done my job right, like a hibernating bear, I'll have put on enough fat to get me through the winter. Somewhere around Easter, I'll have lost enough of my girth that I can button my pants again without having to hold my breath.
Till then, though, avert your eyes if you see me coming in a sweater. That zipper gives out and it ain't gonna be pretty.
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