By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
As my brother so accurately wrote last year, Thanksgiving is our family’s favorite holiday. After all, we are related to five of the 17 families that came over on the Mayflower. After I discovered this bit of history I deluded myself into thinking that our DNA is hard-wired to love the holiday commemorating them. But the cold, hard truth is that we love this holiday because we love to eat.
We are all big eaters in our family. There is never an “old maid” left on the hors d’oeuvre tray and “thirds” are for the light eaters. We are the family that inspired expandable waistbands. We do have standards – we do not eat jellied cranberry sauce and no one belches at the table. So far.
And yet we are not so slovenly that we have no self-respect. No sir, we are all pretty good about exercise and trying to stay in shape. For years I wore a pedometer to ensure that I walked 10,000 steps every day. So in anticipation of Thursday’s annual bacchanal, I went to walk.about.com which has a handy little feature that lets you check all the food you’ll eat on Thanksgiving and then covert it to calories. I thought that could be an interesting exercise, forgetting that when it comes to food, ignorance is bliss.
A glass of wine? Check. A celery stalk stuffed with bleu cheese? Why not? Okay, I’ll opt for one cracker with a slice of Stilton. How much could that add? On I went, from the turkey to the mashed potatoes to the requisite green bean casserole . My total calorie count? 3,365!!!!
Then the intrusive, vindictive, people-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands snoops at walk.about.com felt the need to let me know with laser-like precision exactly how many miles and steps it would take me to burn off all those calories. Turns out I need to walk 34 miles or 67,300 steps to wear off my dinner. From a scheduling standpoint, I need to cram 6 1/2 days of walking into Thursday. If I start walking in downtown San Francisco I couldn’t stop until I reached Santa Clara. Fortunately Stanford Medical Center is on the way – perhaps I could drop in for a gastric bypass.
But here’s the worst part, I lied when I took the test. One cracker with cheese? I so frequently hog the snack table that my family nickname is “Hoover lips”. I consider mashed potatoes to be health food and, frankly, I think it insulting to the cook if I pass on all the pies and whipped cream. Even though the “cook” is Costco. My real calorie count is probably north of 6,000.
So when everyone gathers on Thanksgiving to eat, watch football and talk about the nation’s pending financial crisis, I will sadly find no room for compromise. Despite the obvious risks and danger, I will be jumping off the caloric cliff.