John Larson

Every day around midnight I’m shocked to find it’s just only 6 p.m. And every year around this time I’m wondering why it isn’t Christmas already. Seems like we’ve been hearing the Chipmunk Song since the middle of November.

Although we’re not deep into the clutches of old person winter yet, my homemade advent calendar tells me that it’s time to lay in some firewood. And yes, we do have electric radiators and propane for keeping the house warm, but there’s nothing like burning firewood in a cast iron wood stove.

Some friends of mine have switched over to pellet stoves, but I still like going out in the backyard and splitting firewood. It’s kind of therapeutic, both physical and mental, sinking that maul into a piece of wood onto which I’ve written 2020 with a Sharpie.

Anyway, we’ve just passed the day that has lived in infamy. Of course, I speak of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7, and thanks to my parents – who both heard the news flash on the radio – I was taught to remember it every year. My dad put his doctorate on hold and joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, becoming a radio operator, and my mom wanted to do her part by enrolling in nursing school in Birmingham, which is where they met. They said they could never forget where they were and what they were doing when they heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

The next day President Roosevelt asked Congress to formally declare war on the Empire of Japan. Nowadays it’s not an empire anymore but a regular government with an emperor, like a constitutional monarchy. That makes Camrys.

Today, by the way, is the first day of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights as it’s also known, and goes through to Dec. 18, when a menorah candle is lit each night and kids play with dreidels. I confess that my knowledge of Hanukkah is limited, but I do know it goes back to the year 139 when the Jerusalem Temple was dedicated. Full disclosure: I learned this a few decades ago when a friend of mine would take me as her guest to her synagogue. But what I remember most is the food. You’ve got your latkes, your jelly doughnuts, your bimuelos… and don’t forget the chocolate coins. I’m not sure if pumpkin spice has entered the tradition, but you never know.

Those above-mentioned potato pancakes sound good to me, but I think I’m going to put my diet on hold for the next three weeks. That’s “diet” as in what I normally eat from day to day, not dieting, as in the Atkins Diet or Paleo or vegan or what have you. When it comes to losing weight some people go to desperate lengths with fad diets and there are certainly some strange ones that have cropped up on the internet.

There’s one called the Werewolf diet where you’re supposed to fast during the cycle of the full moon. Another one, the Five Bite diet, is where you skip breakfast and then only take five bites of food for lunch and five bites for dinner. How about the Baby Food diet which has you eating 14 jars of baby food for breakfast and lunch? Then there’s the Cabbage Soup diet (which sounds pretty gassy to me) and the Tapeworm diet where you ingest tapeworm eggs and let the little buggers eat all the food you’ve eaten out of your intestines. Then when you’ve lost all the weight you’ve wanted to, go to the doctor for deworming. I guess a vet could do it as well.

Here’s a goofy one I saw on Facebook: the Cotton Ball Diet. Just consume cotton balls soaked in orange juice till you’re full. Or till you puke, I’m thinking.

There’s also the Raw Food diet. These people spend days juicing, blending, sprouting, germinating, cutting, chopping, dehydrating, and rehydrating. It’s known by followers as Raw Foodism. It’s probably the healthiest on the list, but no thanks, I’m not an “ism” person; I agree with Ferris Bueller: “…ism’s are not good. A person should not believe in an ism. He should believe in himself.”

Between now and New Year’s we’re faced with a multitude of gastronomic deliciousness. It seems there’s always some homemade biscochitos, empanadas or those round chile rellenos lying around on which to nibble.

But if you’re really concerned with staying, you know, healthy, through it all I’ll put on my nutritionist hat and throw out these reminders. Eat more fruit. Eat only when you feel hungry. Cut back on the soft drinks… I’m sorry. I can’t go on. Talking about healthy food during the holidays harshes my mellow.

Or is it marshes my mallow?

Skip it.