By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

(Not So) Common Sense
Oh, the choices we must make
By Carole Townsend

December is my favorite month of the year, and it has been since I was a little girl. Of course, Christmas falls in December. What child doesn’t love the excitement and anticipation of the Christmas season?

Also, my birthday falls in this month. I’ve logged quite a few of them by now, and I think that’s terrific. I’ve never really understood the dread and loathing that some of my friends have where birthdays are concerned. I mean when they stop, that’s the bummer, right?

Anyway, my love of December and more important, my love of Christmas, has grown deeper and gotten stronger over the years.  Aside from the true “reason for the season,” which matters to us most, our priorities where the traditional celebration is concerned have shifted for the better through the years. You see, Christmas has also become about being surrounded by our friends, children and granddaughter, and less about the “stuff.” I’m glad, because the “stuff” is soon forgotten and thrown aside. But the family and the memories we make with them, they are what matters. They last.

One of the memories that I cherish from my childhood is the baking and cooking I remember my mother and aunts doing during the season. My mother passed away when I was very young, so the few memories that I have are all the more important. My mother and her sisters were all of good German stock. Translated, that means that they were, let’s see…solid, well-built women. Add to that the fact that they were fabulous cooks and well, you know where I’m going with this. 

I have carried on the tradition of generous cooking and baking during the season. We share the bounty with our children, friends and neighbors, but an awful lot of what I bake stays at home. That means, of course, that a lot of what I bake is eaten here at home. Over the years, that has become somewhat of a problem. You see, my husband and I, admittedly, love food. Speaking for myself, I love food and all that goes with it. I love beautiful food presented well. I love that social events are typically accented with beautiful food prepared with love and skill. I love that the smells of certain foods are associated with Thanksgiving and then, with Christmas.

I do not, however, love the fact that even my stretchy pants become uncomfortable by the time December 31 rolls around. Add to that phenomenon the fact that it seems to take less food to make me expand, and more effort to take off the extra weight, than it used to twenty years ago. Why is that? Oh my doctor explained that it’s an age thing, and I must say that hardly seems fair. By this stage of life, we have learned that all things considered “vices” are bad for us. The only thing left at the end of the day is food, and now even that’s a problem.

In answer to the problem of our obvious weight gain during this season of joy, my husband and I are planning to combat the added weight with both diet and exercise come January 2. We are both, after all, realists. We know that I will continue to bake and cook to my heart’s desire through Christmas. While New Year’s Eve is not a huge deal around our house, New Year’s Day is. 

We predictably keep alive the tradition of eating blackeye peas (for luck) and collard greens (for money) on that day. Of course, with blackeye peas and collard greens, cornbread, mashed potatoes and a roasted pork loin must round out the meal. So January 2 is the designated date that kicks off ten or so months of nutritional repentance. Then October will come around, and the pendulum swings back the other way. So goes the life of a Southern woman with German roots. I can’t fight it, so I do my best to plan around it. 

What are your family’s traditions? If they center around food, I’d love to have your recipes.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.