Though more than a week remains before Thanksgiving, I'm already planning how I'll celebrate that day. This year I'm staying home. No sense in roasting an entire turkey for just me...but a turkey breast might fill the bill. I plan sweet potatoes, creamed onions, stuffed celery and olives, and certainly pumpkin pie. And I don't plan to count calories, not even when I sneak downstairs to make that midnight turkey sandwich, layered thickly with cranberry sauce.
In my preteen days, Thanksgiving provided a chance for me to bond with Mama and Grandma. Several years ago I wrote about how I helped prepare the feast in a story, "Spellbound by Swanky Swigs," which was published in Thanksgiving Tales: True Stories of the Holiday in America. When I wrote that story I remembered how much I always looked forward to this particular holiday.
Unfortunately, by the time I hit high school, I no longer enjoyed Thanksgiving. Of course, I wanted to see my aunts, uncles and cousins...it wasn't that. I just didn't want to see the food. I'd sit at the table, watching my rotund uncles shovel down mashed potatoes, and worry that if I tasted as much as a morsel of Grandma's apple/raisin stuffing, I'd add two inches to my hips. By that time I'd been sold the idea that a good girl, a pretty girl, a decent girl was...a thin girl. Less is more was the mantra of the '50s. Though I didn't know anybody who ran to the restroom to throw up after every meal, that revolting activity was just around the corner. My friends and I thumbed little calorie counters available at every drugstore checkout station. We were already engrossed in obsessing over every mouthful of food that we no longer quite enjoyed.
In Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love & Fashion, released last month by Seal Press, Virgie Tovar has assembled the stories of 31 women who have spent their lives dealing with the weighty issue of weight, and have finally adopted a different philosophy...love what you've got, and quit waiting for life to begin once you've become thin. I'm one of these women. My story, "Elephants Never Forget," harks back to the time that I became aware that I didn't measure up...or, rather, measured up far too much. Here's an excerpt:
This incident marked a turning point in my life. Sixty years later, I still remember that at dinner that night I'd turned down seconds on mashed potatoes and I'd even skiped the cake Mama served for dessert. Obviously, I'd have to cut back on eating. Food made me fat, and made me lazy and unlovable in my mother's eyes.
I'm proud that my story is included. The cover copy announces: "Writers, activists, performers, and poets write about everything from fat burlesque and queer dating to plus-size modeling and building the ultimate fat wardrobe. Long overdue, Hot & Heavy is a fierce, sassy and joyous send up to living large--and loving it."
To celebrate the publication of this book, that celebrates hate loss, not weight loss, I intend to take back Thanksgiving. I'm going into this holiday season carefree and calorie-counting-free.