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All Over Now

All Over Now

If you observe the traditional twelve days of Christmas, there’s still a few days of celebration left. For most though, it’s all over now, especially because of Covid-19 Tier 4 house arrest for millions. As I write, the New Year is 17 hours old and I’m wondering how many resolutions you’ve broken already?

Confession time: back in November I had put on a few pounds. Not my fault of course . . . Covid clampdown was the culprit! Anyway, I promised myself that I would not, under any circumstances, over-eat over Christmas. But you know how it is; Barbara and I went to the Stewarts for Christmas Day. Our daughter Ailsa had slaved away preparing a delicious Christmas dinner and you can’t eat just one brussel sprout and half a carrot. No way—there’s a moral obligation to do justice to the meal. Naturally. But then, after staggering from the table and adjusting my belt, there is the ethical duty to at least sample the gifts of confectionary my family shower upon me. I wouldn’t want to cause offence; couldn’t risk them finding their carefully selected box of chocolates at home in the cupboard, unopened (when we’re finally allowed to visit each other). In any case, calories don’t count on holiday, right? Then there was an ongoing temptation of the little dessert treats that mysteriously appear in our fridge and pantry. Wasteful to throw them out, so better eat them up. Of course. Only sensible. Besides, I’m ten pounds over now, another few pounds isn’t so bad. I’ll run a bit harder on my morning jog and start a serious diet after the holiday . . . In the meantime, I don’t think I’ve sampled anything from that tray of truffles yet; just a little something while I watch this movie . . .

Sound familiar?

I know what to do of course. It’s simple: just eat less. But not easy: I must walk past the fridge without opening it when I’m hungry and fancy a snack. A heroic feat of self control! I don’t go in for diets, at least not the kind with a title and eating plans by experts, or weird diets on social media that go viral. No, I continue eating what I like but just less of it. My personal, highly successful strategy is a glass of juice for breakfast; a dish of cereal for lunch; a small evening meal with no dessert, and nothing else; no chocolate, no sweets. It’s worked several times before. Check back in a month or two and I’ll let you know how I get on.

Over Christmas there was a TV series showing a modern family recreating the conditions of Christmases during World War 2. Much of it was like Christmases I remember as a child in the late 1940s and early 50s. A bit weird, watching a “historical” documentary that I once lived through. Am I really that old? Like the TV family, we made our own decorations. We cut out coloured strips and looped them into chains, sticking the ends with flour paste. It was part of the fun of the season. What the series couldn’t recreate was the atmosphere: the anticipation and excitement in our home, before the days of television, when entertainment was home-made like decorations, and the family stayed together in one room every evening, because it had a fire and was the only warm place in the house. As we sat on the floor making decorations, each loop was building my Christmas.

What a contrast today! After a strange year, it was a strange Christmas. Greetings at a distance on doorsteps, or online in a peculiar virtual world. Nine months of Covid restrictions has taught me two things. First, the huge value of Zoom—I’ve actually had more, not less communication with children and grandchildren this year. But second, how poor it is compared with the real thing. Much, much better than nothing, but virtual reality is not the same as actual reality.

Given all that though, despite the missing fizz of normal human contact I’ve enjoyed Christmas as I usually do. And I hope you have too. I wish us all a happy, prosperous and increasingly healthy New Year. And for many, may the diet do its thing for you.


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