At The Holiday Pinch Point

It’s 10 days before Christmas, and it’s time to make some important decisions.

Not about shopping.  If you haven’t done your shopping by now, you may as well wait until the very last minute and become one of those pathetic, lost wretches who makes a mad dash to the stores on December 24 and hopes to find something decent for the people on your shopping list (which I can attest from personal experience can be done, mind you).  No, I’m talking about decisions about eating.

holiday2Already I can feel the clothing growing a bit, er, snug, and the holiday parties and open houses and receptions are only now beginning to appear on the calendar in earnest.  We’ve tried — really, really tried! — to be sensible and good about our consumption, but already we’ve been tempted by, and succumbed to, chocolate-covered nuts from the Pacific Northwest, and some of the very best brittle you can imagine.  Delectable home-baked cookies, and delicious trifle, and pies, and pound cake, and candied almonds, and bowls of irresistible red and green M&Ms, and God knows what else have appeared before us and vanished down the gullet.  About the only thing we’ve been able to successfully resist is fruitcake.

And now the clothing is sending us a message, and we’ve got a decision to make:  (1) get all of the Christmas goodies out of the house, immediately, defer any further confectionary consumption until the Christmas meal itself, and thereby try to stay in reasonable fighting trim until the holidays are behind us, or (2) give up the ghost entirely, have a roaring good time at the remaining parties, go all in on stuffing ourselves with the foods and drinks that make the festive times festive, and vow to really address that waistline after New Year’s Day.

You know, I’ve heard that January is really a good time for losing weight, because you end up burning calories just to stay warm.

Partied Out

When I started as a new lawyer in Columbus in the 1980s, the turn of the calendar to December 1 marked the beginning of a very festive month of celebration.

In those days, it wasn’t uncommon to get a surprise present or a gift basket with some wine, cheese, and crackers from someone who wanted to get or keep your business; one year I received a porcelain cookie jar in the shape of a snowman’s head and another I got a candy-dispensing contraption.  At night large parties hosted by consultants, clients, court reporters, and other law firms were the norm.  During the weeks leading up to Christmas, lawyers could always find a post-work place to revel in the brotherhood of the bar and enjoy a free drink or two, some hors d’oeuvres, and often live music, too.

It was all a vestige of the Mad Men era where work and partying went hand in hand, and it soon ended.  Court reporting firms and consultants became “service providers” who cut costs so they could compete more effectively on price, and lavish parties and gifts were the first line items on the chopping block.  Legal organizations became a lot more sensitive to the problems of alcohol abuse in our profession, and people started to realize that large, liquor-infused parties probably weren’t good for the inebriated lawyers who were making fools of themselves on the dance floor or under the mistletoe, or their marriages.

These days, December has a different, more family-focused feel to it.  It’s not a bad thing.