Sunday, December 6, 2015

Why I'm not holding my annual holiday openhouse this year

It's the first Sunday of December and for many of the last 40 years, I've held a holiday open house from 2-5 pm on this day. In most of the first of those decades, I was a graduate student and an active alcoholic and I made mulled wine and whiskeyed eggnog from scratch and invited people to bring their favorite Christmas cookies. I delighted the students in the classes I taught by bringing the leftover cookies to class. I continued to do that until the homemade cookies stopped coming and people brought storebought cookies and cakes and candy. Then I widened the food request to any kind of finger foods.

The first couple of years I was sober, I didn't hold the openhouse. I was afraid people would expect the mulled wine and the eggnog and I wasn't going to make it. But after I got more solid in my sobriety, I made mulled apple cider and started holding the open house again. Because of the huge influx of sugary foods that came, I eventually declared the event sugar-free and the food got much more interesting.

Since I've been in Portland, I've held this event most years. It's always been a delight whether 20 people show up or 60 do. But this year, I'm more food-free than ever (although people think it sounds restricted). I've found an eating plan that really works for me because it addresses the issues of food and sugar addiction, which are an unfortunate part of my journey. I don't eat sugar or other sweeteners, I don't eat flour or processed foods, and I don't eat between meals. I am solid in my commitment to this and yet not yet solid in my habits. So the idea of having a lot of food in my house that I don't eat and a lot of people in my house eating those foods at non-meal time seems not the best idea to me.

At the holidays, we often throw all caution to the wind where food is concerned and I appreciate the generosity and hospitality that a groaning board implies but this year, I'm committed elsewhere.

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