Sunday, November 23, 2008

Manipulated? Ya Think?

"When the holiday season of consumption that began on 'black Friday' (the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving that is supposed to help merchants end the year in the 'black') draws to a close, our consumption doesn't stop, it just changes focus. During the holiday season we are encouraged to consume, especially foods to feel loved. In January we are encouraged to purchase diet foods and exercise equipment; ironically, to assuage our previous over-indulgence." ~~ Mary Beth Lind in Simply in Season

A bunch of sheep. Sometimes we Americans act like a bunch of sheep following momentary impulses. And the media is an impulse that undeniably prompts.

I think of the ads at Christmas for delicious foods. Mouth-watering ads showing gorgeous, perfectly dressed, unbelievably joyful people delighting in spectacularly roasted turkeys, glistening sauces, steaming potatoes and stuffings, vibrant vegetables, and breads slathered in butters and jams. Desserts shot up-close so that each pecan is magnified in the pie, the icing on the cookies lures, and the hot chocolate melts the plop of whipping cream before my eyes. All of this is put forth as innocent holiday requirements. Afterall the more extravagant the wintery delights you serve, the more you love your family and friends. Right?

So bake and cook and eat we do with permission from Mother Media. "Go for it!" she cackles. "Indulge, my children, eat with abandon! It's guilt-free - everyone is doing it!"

But, sheep that we are, we aren't prepared for the onslaught of palm-rubbing, gleeful GUILT about to be served up after the last feast on New Year's Day. Holiday pounds! Oh, the shame. Better lose them quick with this diet method or that, this gym or that. And you certainly can't do it without that convoluted piece of exercise equipment peddled by an aging t.v. star or swimsuit model you sort of remember.

It's a trap, I tell you!

Besides the obvious blindfolding and unplugging of oneself from the inevitable media blitz - is that entirely possible? - there is a better way, a thoughtful path through favorite, festive, holiday food. Bake and cook and eat to your heart's content and don't look back. Enjoy the goodness of the earth as you celebrate whichever holiday you observe. Take a few extra strolls around the neighborhood. Chop a little more wood. Play vigorously with the kids, especially when you don't really feel like it. Keep a handle on the pressure in your stomach. Engage your mind to keep from gluttony that will burp up regret later in the evening. You can have your cake and eat it, too, because if you don't eat the whole thing in one day there'll be more for the next.

All I'm suggesting is that rather than have our holiday merriment sour into new year depression, it's possible to truly relish the coming holidays not as sheep but as wise men and women who enjoy the people, the weather, the sights and sounds, and the sumptuous cuisine while maintaining just enough self-discipline that, in the end, we may laugh in the faces of the new year taunts about holiday weight gain, bloat, and disappointment.

Let the festivities begin!

(How obvious is it that is a post from me, to me? ; )


tshsmom said...

Once again, we're in total agreement! I wrote a similar post last year, at this time of year.

I get sooo sick of people complaining about the commercialization of Christmas. The holidays are only commercialized if YOU let them.

Family traditions are the easiest way to ignore the hype. If we all celebrate OUR way, Madison Ave has no control.

I usually eat my Thanksgiving pie for breakfast the next morning. I appreciate it much more when I'm not so full. ;)

As for exercise: I just love those "DO" commercials on TV! They prove that exercise doesn't have to cost anything.

Cherie said...

I sometimes eat my pie for breakfast, too. It seems a shame to eat it when the belly is too full to find pleasure in it. I do have to guard the pie with my life, though, label it, threaten death to anyone who even THINKS about eating it. ;)

And as for free exercise, well, is there a better kind? Remember when 'exercise' was called 'having fun?' You know, walking together, football on the lawn, kick the can, climbing trees?

tshsmom said...

Just tell your family that you spit on the piece of pie with your name on every time! ;)

When you get down to it, exercise is the thing that's over-commercialized! It can't possibly be the "right" exercise if it's fun and free. Kids must have private lessons on how to skate, swim, run, and play a sport. Adults MUST belong to the "right" gym, while they hire someone to do their yard work and paint their house. Besides, a stationary bike is so much better than riding a real bike outdoors. ;)

Gardenia said...

Moderation and balance in all things - I am learning more and more to appreciate the meaning in that!

This year I am refusing to play the marketing game - I will only buy well thought out and carefully shopped for gifts which I will find at bargain prices - - the same with food - carefully prepared with respect and then shared with love - if someone can use the leftovers - great, take them away!

I will exercise regularly each day doing something - walking, elliptical, or cleaning house, or raking - - - if I can! I'll feel the air in my lungs and the sunshine on my face and be grateful.

Yay. Thanks for the pep talk!

Cherie said...

Tshs: Hey, that'd work for sure!! LOL ;)

It's pretty ridiculous, isn't it, the hiring of people to do the yard and housework etc., while paying for a trainer, gym membership, etc. Paying twice for what could be free.

Gardenia: And thank YOU for the pep talk, gal!! I'm doubly determined now!

His Love is the Theme of My Song said...

I'm loving your 30 days of blogging! You go, girl! As far as Thanksgiving is concerned, we have such a houseful every year that I'm too busy to eat! And, I'm on my feet most of the time, so maybe I'm burning a few calories! Ha! I am praying for you guys as you celebrate and reflect on all God has blessed and will bless us with! I love you!

Cherie said...

Love you, too, HLITTOMS! I, too, am not eating too much on the actual day of Thanksgiving - busy getting it all done. But there are winter days when the darkness is long and the temperature cold that I want things that aren't good for me. So, I write a little post to remind myself.

Hey, you have a great time with your family! And I'll have a great time with those who travel to my home. Gonna be a CROWD!

Sandy's Notes said...

I'm determined to lose weight this holiday, but God help me, I've never done that before!