The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

One of the most persistent “gifts” I receive each holiday season is weight gain of at least 5 pounds. I gorge myself at parties and feel sick afterward. Well-meaning coworkers give me a bag of chocolates or Christmas cookies and it sits alone in the room with me, on the counter, calling my name all shift long. I don’t have the self-discipline to resist. I also have several friends who are excellent bakers and want to share the wealth.

Here’s the thing. (Yes, there’s always a thing.) I know these people mean well, and their generosity is coming from a place of nothing but goodwill and holiday spirit, but the end result is my health is undermined from now until January 2nd, and this year I’m not gonna take it anymore.

It’s funny, the destructive ways we as a species sometimes show our love. Giving a bag of chocolate to someone who hasn’t asked for it is like saying, “I have no idea if you’re struggling with your weight, or have diabetes or heart issues, and I don’t care. Here’s a big old ball of fat for you to enjoy. Eat up! Merry Unhealthy Christmas!”  

And then there are the people who send you things that aren’t palatable or that you wouldn’t consider eating at any other time of year, and because you don’t want to waste food, you eat it. Does anybody really like fruitcake? And Christmas Cookies always taste stale to me, even right out of the oven.

With all the food waste in the world, I’m loathe to throw things away. And if I don’t want to indulge in poor health myself, I don’t want to pass on that poor health to someone else, either, so giving this unwanted stuff to anyone, even a homeless shelter, seems wrong. Sugar is killing this country. And so here I am with a dilemma that I never asked for in the first place.

“But it’s tradition!” we say as we joyfully throw obesity at each other. We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings by telling them not to waste their baking on us. And it’s true, I can also be accused of having done this to people in the past without first asking. It’s what you do this time of year.

It’s particularly amusing/confusing to me when someone who is so wonderfully considerate that they say “happy holidays” to people, because like me they want all people to feel joy and inclusion at this time of year, and yet that same person is perfectly willing to ignore those of us who are desperately trying to get healthy and live longer. Diabetes? Have a cookie. You’ll feel better. It’s my mother’s recipe, may she rest in peace.

This year I discussed this issue with my two coworkers on my drawbridge, and they both agreed that they, too, have no willpower and would therefore much rather not see these sweets this year. So I sent out an e-mail to everyone in our department which said the following:

“’Tis the season when people start giving chocolates and cookies and the like to the drawbridges, and we definitely appreciate the sentiment and the warm holiday spirit. Having said that, I’ve discussed this with the two other people who work on this bridge, and the consensus is that we all want to focus on our health this year.  We wish all of you the happiest of holidays, but we would prefer not to receive any such items at this time. Thanks in advance for your understanding.”

I’m really amused at some of the responses we’ve gotten. One guy, a temp who rarely works here, says he might work here one day this month, and he wants the goodies to be there. So, in other words, to hell with us.

Another person freaked out and thought we were talking about all the drawbridges, not just ours, and he made it clear that he wants the sweets on his bridge, not for him, but because someone always eats them. Well, yeah, they do, but do they regret it? Have you even asked? Well, not my bridge, so not my realm of influence.

Another person, who always buries us in chocolate, acted all offended even though I think my e-mail was polite. If an e-mail such as this upsets you, you may want to examine why you are giving out the chocolate in the first place. Is your desire to be perceived as a nice person more important than the recipient’s desire to reach his or her health goal? Well, sorry, but my health comes first from now on, even if you do get butt hurt.

Call me a Grinch if you must, but I know for a fact that I hear people constantly complaining about being surrounded at this time of year by foods they’d prefer not to eat for whatever reason. And I hear those same people expressing seasonal regret in January for having ingested the stuff in the first place.

So if you’re going to provide these kinds of temptations, please, first ask if they’re wanted. And if you ask me, my answer is going to be no thank you. Please don’t take it personally. Just kindly keep your candy canes to yourself. I’d much rather have the pleasure of your company, or, barring that, a children’s book for my little free library. That’s the kind of thing I’m perfectly willing to pass along.

A book about gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

6 thoughts on “Please, No Sweets This Holiday Season

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver says:

    The items pictured seem not to be what I consider the best quality. I had a boss who brought in homemade cookies and they were pretty good. I have all these years been right glad when someone brings in goodies, but that might change, depending on my next blood test. I don’t know if I need to just dial back on the sugar and save it for special days or cut it out entirely save for fruit. The latter prospect is unnerving, not the least because I have inherited the role of pfeffernusse maker for the pfamily, and my pff…not gonna try and spell that again…are pretty darn good, since I altered the pflavoring by adding some more spices. Anyway–apart from the stupid diet industry, stupid fatphobic culture and so on–it seems mighty ironic that some of the people who historically yapped the loudest about sugar not being good for me are the same people who turned me on to it in the 1st place, way back when.
    I’m not saying that fat can’t be a problem, but it isn’t the cause of all our physical woes, and it isn’t our fault. I wish I could develop a taste for the blood of people who fill us with damaging lies as well as addictive substances–but that’d probably be full of sugar too.

  2. Actually, they would probably be full of cholesterol. Just saying.
    And I apologize if I implied that all overweight people are unhealthy. I don’t believe that at all. And I know for a fact I’m healthier than a lot of my skinny relatives. I just know that it’s a personal goal of mine this year to put less strain on my heart so that I’m less out of breath. And I have a lot to live for these days, so I’d kind of like to stick around. So I’m eating better, exercising more, and just generally trying to do what I can to experience this amazing life.
    And I’m convinced now that sugar is a lethal, addictive drug because once I stopped having it as a part of my daily diet, I stopped craving it, and the few times that I have indulged lately it’s really been a crashing disappointment and has made me feel kind of nauseated.
    Pfeliz Navidad, Angi

  3. Martin says:

    barb – sorry to say – you have become bitter. A person who takes offense when people don’t act exactly as you want.

    1. Actually, quite the opposite. As I establish healthy boundaries and remove the toxic elements from my life, I become more joyful every day. People can do whatever they want for themselves, eat all the crap they want, but no one gets to force feed me their toxicity. And that’s a perfectly reasonable request.

  4. Angiportus Librarysaver says:

    Tried quitting once, but the craving didn’t stop. We will see. And I don’t find you bitter.

    1. It took me a good month to stop jonesing for sugar. It is a powerful urge.
      And thanks. Most people don’t, I’m fairly certain. 🙂

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