To many, this time of year is the beginning of the holiday season filled with family, friends and feasts. But I consider it more of a birthday season, with my son, nephew, mother, uncle and myself all acknowledging another year older as a prelude to the biggest birthday celebration of them all – Christmas! This past weekend was my Mom’s turn. She’s a birthday veteran with 80 of them now under her belt. Because of this significant milestone, we decided on not one, but two parties. One for family and friends in the afternoon, and another at my place in the evening. Like all of our gatherings, we decided to centre the action around food, planning for snacks, dinner, desserts, then more snacks, and lots of leftovers for the following week. During the afternoon celebration as I greeted long-lost friends of the family, a familiar tune incessantly looped through my head. One that my sister-in-law Christine used to sing years ago: Look at all this luscious food I am really in the mood For spaghetti, ravioli, mostacholi, artichoke But this plate is much too small I need room to eat it all So I’ll drink up all the punch And use the bowl to eat my lunch! “This is a once-in-a-lifetime celebration,” I argued with myself, eyes darting to the food table. “I want to eat it all. I could just ignore everybody right now and hover over the dessert table all afternoon, sampling cookie after square after pastry after cake…” Feast or family? What to do, what to do? Sticking to my plan of just a little of everything was definitely not going to work this time. With so many platters of goodies, even a little of everything would require switching my plate for a trough. So I perused the variety of items on each platter and ranked them in order of preference. Then I allowed myself one of each of my top two picks. So, first off, anything that did not include chocolate went to the bottom of the list. Anything with too much colour, as in enough red sprinkles to turn the Black Sea crimson, was nixed. I was left with a creamy Nanaimo bar and a chewy cranberry-chocolate chip cookie. So far, so good. For snacks I sandwiched one of those creamy foil-wrapped cheese triangles between two snowflake Ritz crackers. And for supper I had a small sampling of meat lasagne and a not-so-small sampling of chicken and spinach lasagne, with a serving of Caesar salad and a ½ -slice of garlic toast. And when I checked my scale the next morning, I was glad I made the effort to choose my chews wisely.
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