Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Celebrations -- More Than Just Good Eats?

Betina here. That time of year again.
Birthdays, birthdays, birthdays.

I don’t know how you celebrate in your family, group, clan, or pride, but in the Krahn-World annual celebrations of birth remembrance involve food. Cake, yeah, sure. But more often, dinner out at the honoree’s choice of restaurant. My kids grew up thinking turning older meant being able to call the shots one day a year. And eating really, really well.

Add to that the fact that most of our birthdays fall in a chain in November, just before the holidays, and you understand why non-stop dining out and celebrating always caused a ten pound weight gain.

Not, however, this year. This year, I had to send cards and checks in the mail for the kids to celebrate at a distance and my own birthday. . . well, suffice it to say, everybody I live with and around is on Adkins, Southbeach, or a maniacal Deprivation Diet. No cake within miles. And going out to eat meant a naked salad, steak, no baked potatoes, no bread, and a metric-ton of broccoli. Needless to say, I had to find another way to make myself feel as if I’ve celebrated. Booze is out. Decadent spending spree is out. (There are the holiday sprees yet to come and yet to pay for!) Spas are getting pricier and I wasn’t thrilled with the services I had last time.

So? I heated up the pool to an appallingly warm extent and plunged in to soak and swim for two solid hours. I was the only dumpling in a rather dilute Wan Ton Soup. But I felt special and really treated. . . especially when my sister came over the next day and we repeated the indulgence, albeit for a shorter time.

Then I got out a special candle I’d been saving and made a salad from a recipe I’d been meaning to try. We had a lovely, low-carb dinner and capped it off with by watching a new DVD and eating a Slim-A-Bear ice cream sandwich.

I feel so virtuous, it’s nauseating.

But I’ve lost seven pounds now– Rex has lost more than three times that– and we’re both feeling better than we have in three years. I had to think about different ways to celebrate and to mark special times. In the future, I’m going to think about it even more. There are some traditions– like celebratory gluttony-- that, even though pleasurable, should probably drop by the wayside. And what do we replace them with?

What about you? What are your family rituals for birthdays? What other ways do you celebrate? How about other little “rituals” your and yours do for each other to mark the passing of time and accomplishment?


Kathleen Eagle said...

Happy Birthday, Betina! Scorpio? Me, too. I'll post a photo of one of my b'day lunches when I blog on Friday. Three of our dear mutual friends too me out on the 9th, the day after my day. On the 8th my fondest bithday wish came true. (It was the day after election day, remember. 'Nuff said?)

On my day, I wanted to go to a matinee. I love going to the movies in the afternoon, especially during the week when you have the place almost all to yourself. We saw "Flags of Our Fathers"--my choice--and we both agreed it's one of the best we've seen in a long time. If they don't give Adam Beach--plays Ira Hayes--an Oscar, something's wrong.

In EagleLand the birthday girl/guy gets to be the decider for the day, too.

Helen Brenna said...

We still do special dinners out, or the kids will pick something they want me to make at home. And cake. Always cake. I figure a couple days a year won't kill me. But I totally get your dilemma, Betina.

I'm not much of a luxury person, but I'm finding myself more interested in shoes, purses, expensive facial creams. I think I might try splurging on those things without breaking the bank.

Whenever we travel to unique places, I like to buy original artwork. It doesn't have to be expensive, but it does help mark a time and place for me.

What about collecting some type of artist or artwork and add to your collection at these milestones?

Candace said...

Ah, traditional, celebatory guttony...

This is an especially timely topic for me as today is Joe's and my 33rd wedding anniversary--and we are celebrating by going out to dinner. On the plus side, I picked a place known for it's fish dishes and I will happily limit myself to a salad, a grilled entree, and a single glass of white wine. On the minus side, knowing Joe, he has already pre-ordered some outrageous dessert that I will not be able to resist because seets are my culinary weakness.

And, then, two days hence, there's Thanksgiving, which means there absolutely has to be mashed potatoes and gravy, and dressing, and sweet potato casserole with the tiny marshmellows melted on top to go with the turkey or it's not--as I was told the year I tried to alter the menu--a real Thanksgiving. I will attempt to balance the caloric excess with a nice big green salad and two steamed or grilled side veggie dishes, but... Do you want to lay bets on what will be left over when everyone gets up from the table? Not the mashed potatoes!

After that is the other Joe and Candace Schuler tradition -- the holiday dessert party. Nothing but desserts and champagne. This tradition has been going on longer than our marriage (we started it the first year we lived together) and has been held come rain or sleet or driving snow storm, no matter where we've lived, through all 18 moves. People actually come from other states to attend this coma-inducing sugar and fat extravaganza--how could I not hold it?

The only way I've found to counter-balance all this celebratory gluttony is to eat even more carefully during the non-celebratory days and exercise a lot more. The eating part is pretty easy 'cause I actually like things like steamed broccoli and salad and grilled beets and brown rice. And I can resist sweets if they're not in the house--which they're not usually. The hard part is exercise. I do it but I don't enjoy it. And it's really hard to make myself do the more I know I need to do during the ritual overeating holiday season.

My own little "rituals" -- the ones I use to celebrate a completed project or job well done are ususally things like a massage or facial. Or two uninterrupted hours with a book I've been dying to read. Or a trip to an "antique" store to dig through the jewelery cases to see if I can find a lapel pin to add to my collection. Or a shopping spree on Zappos.com.

Betina Krahn said...

Kathy, I didn't know you're the 8th! One of my sons is the 9th, my daughter-in-law (his wife!)is the 10th, and I'm the 11th! Then my other son is the 21st, Rex's sister-in-law is also the 21st, my nephew is the 27th, Rex is the 2nd of December and my grandson Michael is the 11th of December!!! Then there's Christmas and in January it starts all over again!

Helen, I'm thinking more of the little luxuries, myself. . . especially Bath and Body Works stuff. (Even if I can't smell it, I know I smell good.)

And Candace. . . antique stores. Hey, that's a great idea for a treat! Also, this year we're trying out a few trimmed down versions of the traditional Thanksgiving stuff. I'm doing my cranberry-orange relish with Splenda. . . it seems to work. Then my sister came up with a sugar free pumpkin pie and I found a Splenda-sweetened cheesecake that is to die for. We do love the steamed veggies. . . with cheese sauces on the side for the un-deprived. I think the tough things for me will be the dressing and the rolls. . . two of my favorites. Maybe I can just half the servings. . .


;) Betina

Kathleen Eagle said...

Candace's holiday dessert party IS...TO...DIE...FOR. Every confection she makes is a work of art, a visit to heaven for the taste buds.

I wonder if there's any Halloween candy left in the house....

Michele said...

Birthdays always allow for the special person to Chose Their Meal. Usually, out at a restaurant. But I have trained my daughter well. She, like me, has one very particular favorite meal, and this year (a few weeks ago) she traveled from Duluth to Minneapolis just for her birthday supper.

Roast beef and dumplings.

Grandman-approved dumplings, mind you. I was taught the recipe decades ago by my Scandinavian grandma, and how to make enough gravy to choke a horse. These dumplings are just flour, water a little baking powder and salt. Slap a wodge of dough into the gravy, and then watch them balloon into fist-sized decadent treats. One should never eat just one, or two, or even three. One should GORGE oneself on dumplings, slathered in gravy and butter. And it is a promise, said feast will remain with you for days after, feeling like a pile of bricks at the bottom of your stomach. But it's all good!

After the dumplings, I like to indulge with a bubble bath. But heck, I do bubble baths almost daily. So I guess that's not an indulgence, eh?


Candace said...

My grandma (also Scandinavian) made dumplings like that, Michele, but with stewed chicken in cream sauce rather than roast beef and gravy. She made wide, thick noodles (which she also called dumplings) with pot roasted beef. Both were yummy!

And, speaking of Splenda, Betina, I have been experimenting with it in baking. It works, well... splendly in cheesecake (as you have discovered) but not so good in regular cakes. The texture isn't quite right. I'll have to try it in my cranberry-orange relish (I make that, too!).

And, Kathy, I've already started baking for my holiday party. Pecan caramel cheesecake. Triple layer Chocolate Mousse Cake. Cranberry Trifle. Strawberry Charlotte. Assorted tartlets. A Gingerbread Cream Roll. And, of course, baklava. I'm gaining weight just thinking about it. Got to go put in a couple of miles onthe elliptical trainer...

lois greiman said...

It would be unAmerican, maybe even immoral, not to overeat on birthdays. Still, I'm proud of you Betina.

As for me I try to make up for fat days by excerising more, but I've used this method for the past thirty years and now my knees are angry with me, so I plan to weigh 300 pounds soon. God knows I'm far too partriotic to give up cheesecake, but I'm told pictures of Hugh Jackman are low cal. :)

Betina Krahn said...

Lois-- thank heaven we'll at least have Hugh!

And Candace-- your party sounds decadent in the extreme. . . take photos and share!!

Michele. . . dumplings. . . if I had had your grandma I'd be in big trouble. As it was my "MaMaw" (Southern granny) was a biscuit pro and loved to fry things and used butter exclusively. Also she made a mean meatloaf I've tried unsuccessfully to copy for years. And she made "pear honey" that was to die for.

Okay, now that I've had my vicarious food fix, I'm heading off for a bubble bath and reading some Bram Stoker.

:) Betina