The 12 Pounds of Christmas

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2007 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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I’m just dreading the next trip to the doctor for my two to five year annual check-up.
It’s not the snap of the latex glove and instructions to bend over that has me worried.
It’s the look on his face when he checks my chart and says, “Do you know how much weight you’ve gained since you were last here? Didn’t I prescribe a diet of fruits and vegetables along with a daily exercise routine? What part of that didn’t you understand?”
“I can’t help it, Doc. It’s Christmas and people keep settin’ stuff in front of me that they just baked or whipped up out of butter, sugar, chocolate, cream, nuts or potatoes. In this season of giving and good will toward men, how can I say, no thanks, I’m perfectly happy with this banana and dish of green beans.”
It usually starts right around Thanksgiving when my friend, John Mogen calls to say he’s on his way over with a fresh batch of lefse hot off the griddle. His tastes remarkably close to the lefse my mother made and no matter how hard I try to resist, I usually will have eaten it all with ample amounts of butter and sugar in just a couple days.
When Keloland TV news director, Mark Millage invited several of us longtime employees to a Christmas party at his house a few years ago, his wife, Joan and her mom had whipped up a huge banquet of hordevours with various hot and cold meats, cheeses and rows of desserts, candies and bars.
I think it was on my second plate-filling trip through this bountiful buffet when I took a small piece of peanut brittle.
Now, I’ve never had much luck with peanut brittle. I like the taste but it’s usually too dentally dangerous.
It goes way back to Santa Claus Day in Volga during the fifties when all the kids in and around town were invited to a free movie at the auditorium (usually a Walt Disney true life adventure and an Abbott and Costello short) followed by the appearance of Santa passing out bags of treats. (We had the world’s skinniest Santa, Norman Lund, (no relation) who never bothered to even stuff a few pillows in the suit for effect.)
Inside the paper bag were a few peanuts in the shell (unsalted) an apple (small and mushy) a peppermint candy cane, a couple of those awful ribbon candies and some peanut brittle that barely had any peanuts and was so hard that if you did manage to bite off a chunk without breaking a molar, it would stick in your teeth for several weeks.
Doc Shefte, the local dentist, was always on stand-by for Santa Claus Day.
So I was careful when I tasted the peanut brittle at Millage’s house. But to my surprise and delight it was “not” like biting down on a hunk of ceramic tile. Instead, it was sweet, buttery, full of peanuts and, best of all, crunchy as if it had been pulled like taffy to fill it with air.
“Oh man, I said, who made this peanut brittle? It’s the best I’ve ever had.”
It turns out that Joan Millage and her mom spend a lot of quality kitchen time together each holiday season making batches and batches of this delicious confection and because I begged to put me on their list, I’ve been getting a special package every Christmas since.
I always intend to share it with others but like Scrooge over a stack of gold sovereigns, I wrap my arms around the treasure..give a sort of Snidley Whiplash laugh, say a quick bah humbug and consume every sweet morsel myself.
Then there is that afternoon, usually in mid-December, when I walk into our house and am almost overcome by the intoxicating aroma of Chex party mix Linda has baking in the oven. I stand over her like a vulture eying a dying wildebeest waiting for her to stir the mixture of Chex cereal, Honeynut Cheereos, butter, mixed nuts, and seasoned salt.
Then at the risk of getting burned or my hand rapped by a wooden spoon, I reach for a sample of this familiar but fantastic concoction.
The temptations are just too much to resist this time of year.
I wonder if I can switch my doctor’s appointment until after we get back from Arizona.
I’m sure I’ll have lost weight by then.

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