I see a diet in my future, but today, I still have a few pieces of rich, dark chocolate in a box, a Christmas gift from our nephew, Paul, who lives in Amsterdam. When Paul said he was coming for a visit, I e-mailed and asked if he could bring me just a couple pieces of the fantastic chocolate from Puccini Bomboni, a shop we visited in Amsterdam last June.We met up with Paul at his mother’s house in Dundee, Ore., on Christmas Eve, and he hadn’t forgotten the chocolates. Unfortunately, the deep blue Puccini Bomboni box he gave me contained more than just two pieces.Today, the waistband of my pants feels too tight. Either the jeans shrunk again or I ate too much throughout the past year, and especially over the recent holidays. I can’t begin a diet with those incredible chocolates in my house, so I’ll have to eat them today. Then there’s that leftover apple pie I made for Christmas. If my husband and I each eat two pieces, the pie will be gone and I’ll be ready to diet … unless I postpone it until after our New Year’s Eve party. Crumpled wrapping paper still covers the floor and the cat has shredded the tissue. I haven’t turned on the Christmas tree lights today or opened the latest batch of cards. I’m tired and a cold sore has sprouted on my lip from eating too much chocolate. The holiday is over and the phone has sprung back to life with urgent business calls. I’d like to crawl into bed with a good book, a cup of tea, a slice of pie with ice cream, and a few pieces of Puccini Bomboni chocolate, but responsibilities are calling.Ah, if only times were simpler so that we wouldn’t feel so drained — and broke — by the time the holidays are over.
We long for more and more, but sometimes lean holidays create the most special memories, standing out because of their simplicity rather than being lost in the over-abundance of food and commercialism.
When my older brothers were children in the 1930s, they didn’t have expectations of grand gifts under the tree. I remember my mother telling me, “One year, we didn’t have money to buy any Christmas gifts at all, so I took a jelly glass out of the cupboard and wrapped it for your brothers to share.”
A few days ago as neighbors gathered around a piano singing carols at a Christmas party, I remembered a Christmas when I was a child, standing the doorway of our house in Kelso on a crisp, dark December evening listening to carolers. The gift of music coming from the sidewalk was not expensive or hi-tech, but it created a lasting memory.
When I was a child, Mom often made gifts, and we made Christmas cards together from used greeting cards, construction paper trimmed with pinking shears, and little scraps of ribbon. We didn’t buy new tree ornaments every year to create a different theme, and re-visiting the familiar ornaments each December was like seeing old friends.
As 2007 ends, I finish my rich Puccini Bomboni chocolates and sugar-glazed apple pie. I toss the crushed wrapping paper from gifts into the trash can and pack away this year’s fish-themed Christmas decorations. I wonder — is a diet just about food, or can I use the same principles to celebrate next Christmas with more simplicity, not obscuring the joy of the season with an overabundance of material things — or rich, dark chocolate?