Food & Drink

Breaking up with December — the indulgent fling

“While it lasted, every day brought new things to discover about December — spicy gingerbread cookies, juicy rib roast, warm sugar cake,” says Debbie Moose of December’s indulgences.
“While it lasted, every day brought new things to discover about December — spicy gingerbread cookies, juicy rib roast, warm sugar cake,” says Debbie Moose of December’s indulgences. TNS

The shiny is all gone. And I actually have to get to the slush pile of stuff labeled “I’ll get to that after the holidays,” which is an acceptable interfaith excuse until Jan. 2.

Now December is like the memory of a bright, passionate fling. While it lasted, every day brought new things to discover about the beloved – spicy gingerbread cookies, juicy rib roast, warm sugar cake. Each morning broke to anticipation of December’s thrilling voice, of what fascinating meeting would come that day. I deeply inhaled December’s perfume, the aromas of fir tree, frying potatoes and peppermint cocoa.

Now, just like that, it’s all over. Without even a text.

December’s picture is in the trash along with every scrap of its existence, except for once-special gifts now stashed in everyday places – socks balled in a drawer, jewelry tangled in a box.

What’s the next relationship? January.

If December is candleglow, January is fluorescent tubes, the kind of lights in bathing suit fitting rooms, which do nothing but illuminate regret.

Puritanical January’s message: Diet, diet, diet. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Sip cabbage broth before going to the gym in the rain. Fun.

Puritanical January’s message: Diet, diet, diet. Exercise, exercise, exercise. Sip cabbage broth before going to the gym in the rain. Fun.

If you want to stick with me, January says, you have to forget all about December and its profligate carrying-on. Cut out articles about 10 ways to get more fiber in your diet and read the blogs that list 15 benefits of a juice cleanse.

I begin to deny that December and I were ever a thing:

“Eggnog? Never touch the stuff. Someone else must have left all those empty cartons in the trash can.”

“That scale must be broken.”

I‘m sorry, but I can’t let go that easily, not as long as one single bourbon ball remains in the recesses of my kitchen.

Besides, going too far in January’s direction of fitness and asceticism is downright dangerous. I know.

I was at the gym with only one machine left to finish. Just one piece of equipment stood between me and blessed release from the land of people lifting the equivalent of my body weight (not theirs) or pumping ellipticals as if they were outrunning yetis in the Himalayas.

I needed a horizontal bar for the final pull-down weight machine. I spied it at the top of another machine and focused on that shiny bar like a dog on a gate latch, so close to freedom. On my way to grab it, I tripped over one of a machine’s metal feet and did a face-plant on the gym floor. I must have earned high scores for that move because it attracted six or seven people, and it made the weightlifters stop grunting. So the bruised knee and sore teeth weren’t for nothing.

And just thinking about January caused that splat-flat. If it had happened this month, I’d be in a cast right now eating fat-free yogurt.

At least I didn’t break a leg, as happened to a friend who fell off a treadmill. Which reminds me, in Charles Dickens’ time – remember that guy who was everywhere last month? – the treadmill originally was a cruel punishment in British prisons. It was a climbing wheel with steps set very far apart, where prisoners were forced to work for six hours at a time or to the point of exhaustion and injury, whichever came first. Just saying.

January says to eat salad. In the worst month for the quality of the vegetables that go into it. Tomatoes, cucumbers and most things you’d put in a tossed salad except red cabbages and beans taste like paper towels.

As a rebound relationship, January stinks.

Except in one place.

In New Orleans, it’s Carnival season, that extension of December delight that leads up to the kaleidoscope of Mardi Gras.

Somewhere, there is sweet, colorful King Cake and Brandy Milk Punch. It sounds a lot like the month I remember.

Oh, December, I knew you weren’t gone forever. And January – that was my eggnog.

Moose is a Raleigh cookbook author and former News & Observer food editor. Reach her at debbiemoose.com.

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