Christmas Eve at my in-laws’ was my most recent showcase event. Amateurs approach a holiday buffet without strategy but a champion approaches with purpose. My in-laws and their neighbors munched distractedly on the assorted hors d’oeuvres and chit-chatted about paving driveways. Let them eat from the puny 3” paper plates. I went straight for the 10 3/8” mega – a plate big and strong enough to hold the maximum amount of pigs-in-a-blanket and stuffed phyllo dough triangles in the least amount of trips. Mrs. K exposed herself as a novice when she picked a few carrot sticks and plain crackers to avoid anything too rich.
More for me, baby. Bring it on! I thought as I stacked my plate with pungent cheese cubes, garlicky shrimp, mini meatballs, and chorizo. B, my silly husband, asked if I needed a fork. Didn’t anyone at that party understand the concept of “finger foods”? Anyway, I only have two hands: one for my plate and one for my food. I’m too efficient and environmentally minded to clutter my hands or landfills with useless utensils. I did allow B to tuck a napkin into the neck of my sequined top. He can be so thoughtful. Winners need to look good.
A four-hour endurance event requires pacing and I was up for the challenge. I’ve developed reliable strategies: bury the smiling snowman pictured on the plate with food. Pick selectively: Imported pate – yes! Ritz crackers – never. Don’t eat directly from the serving platters: step away from the buffet (but not too far) and mingle with the competition. It is okay to eat from someone else’s plate if they give permission (it is an acknowledgment that you are alpha dog and they cannot out-eat you) or have something yummier than what’s on your plate (you establish that you are alpha). Return to the buffet when the happy snowman on your plate appears again, the conversation turns to recent tooth extractions or the serving platters are refilled.
I began to sweat when the desserts were brought out. Could my body hold more food? In my moment of doubt, I thought of the turducken. I was not going to be outdone by a turkey famous for being stuffed with just a duck stuffed with a chicken. I grabbed a piece of every pie, cake, cookie, and pastry to prove I was alpha!
It is lonely at the top, though. I stood alone on the deck at 3:45 a.m. The only sounds were an insistent rooster in the distance and the turmoiled gurgle of my bloated stomach. The cold air felt better on my face than the porcelain of the toilet. The night was exceptionally clear and the stars bright above the inky darkness of the tree tops. I wondered briefly if I’d see a sleigh if I looked long enough. It was Christmas Eve.
I haven’t believed in Santa Claus for more than 30 years, though. If a fat bearded trespasser with a sack of battery operated toys approached me at that hour asking if I’d been a good girl, I knew I’d knee him in the groin for being a pervert and trying to steal my milk and cookies.