I can feel the pounds piling on already. Just the aroma from the oven is enough to get one salivating and the appetite ready to kick into overdrive.
This is the beginning of the Caribbean Christmas Conundrum.
While many promised faithfully to let it go during Lent, by Christmas we’re willing to quote one of my favorite Caribbean artistes, Busta Rhymes, with … gimme some mo’.
I want to be as slim and as fit as the next guy, maybe more so, but as part of my emotional therapy I’ve been told to stop lying to myself. Accept my reality. I’m not going to get slim this Christmas because my mom’s delectable candied sweet potato is not something I am ready or willing to deny myself. Maybe I could, if the menu were a one-trick pony, but that potato nestled next to a sumptuous serving of macaroni casserole, rice and gungo peas and ham provides my dietary willpower with as much resistance as Granny Maudlyn’s front verandah after Saturday waxing and Sunday showers.
I’ve fought the good fight before. After broaching my 30s, I had come to the realization that my metabolism was slowing down like an old car needing an oil change, and so I donned my polite-rejection persona and waddled my way through the openings of that first Christmas struggle. I made it all the way to the soup. Most of you may not think that as very far since, for most Jamaican families, the mannish water is just the opener to prepare you for the meal. I challenge you, however, to overcome the powerful aromas coming from a Caribbean kitchen on Christmas Day. It doesn’t help that you are constantly being prodded to eat, as anything close to a svelte figure is considered wishy-washy and in need of some gumption provided by the elders around you. Clearly they must know what they are talking about.
By mid-meal I was stuffed, unable to take a message past the three types of meat and countless servings of carbs accompanied by smatterings of vegetables only there to keep you from being a constipated mess. I scarfed down almost four times the recommended daily allowance of sorrel in an effort to wash it all down, but I only succeeded in adjusting my posture into a Christmas duck stance. Between half-open eyelids and latent feelings of nausea, I glanced the incoming dessert and, against my better judgment, decided to try just a piece. In the immortal words of Boysie, “One little piece lead to another little piece and den another little piece, and before you know it, it done.”
The Christmas meal was done. I had eaten myself into the 3rd Circle of Dante’s Inferno. The mental image of myself was something akin to Jabba the Hutt of Star Wars fame. It’s then that the waves of regret would wash over me. And this is the “agony” that accompanies every Christmas meal.
The Christian test of self-denial fails magnificently every time and reminds me that all would be lost without the love and saving grace of Jesus. The conundrum always begins with wondering how one moderates oneself when the Christmas meal smells so good, and it always ends with how does one get back to normal after eating so much? I therefore beseech the reason for the season to grant us the courage to change the things we can, the strength to accept the things I can’t and the wisdom to understand that attempting to try any of that during Christmas is rubbish!