Sunday, January 06, 2008

Holiday Meals

Caution... this post is a rant.

This post has been brewing since Thanksgiving and now that the holidays have passed, I feel like I'm distanced enough from the source of my frustration to write about it.

First of, let me preface this by saying that I'm really glad that AM and I get to see so many different members of our family during the holiday season. It's really a blessing that we get to spend so much time with so many different people that we care about. Having said, I feel the need to complain a little bit about the structure of these holiday gatherings.

I don't know what holidays are like in other families, but in the families that I'm a part of they usually involve a meal. You might think my complaint has to do with the type of food that we eat, but it's not. The food is usually AMAZING. My mom, dad, and mother-in-law in particular possess exceptional cheffing skills. Sometimes we have traditional turkey or ham, sometimes we have an ethnic themed meal or a cajun shrimp and crab boil, sometimes we have breakfast, sometimes, it's lunch, and sometimes it's dinner. As a matter of fact, some of my favorite foods are served around the holiday table at family gatherings with one of our families.

My gripe has nothing to do with what we eat. It has nothing to do with how we eat, who we eat with, or where we eat it. No, my problem is WHEN we eat.

For some reason at some point in the history of holiday get togethers, the powers that be (i.e. the holiday event planners) in my family decided that 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. would be the magical eating times for lunch and dinner.

Are we getting together for a holiday lunch? OK... see you at 2. This year the Christmas meal is dinner? OK... see at 3

Any other time of the year, most people would laugh at the idea of eating lunch at 2 p.m. or dinner at 3, but not during the holidays. During the holidays, rational eating times are thrown out and it's like all of the sudden any hour between noon and 4 is fair game for lunch. Who in their right minds waits until 2 in the afternoon to eat lunch? That's a sure fire recipe for low blood sugar, irritability, and family bickering. Oh... and if they say we're going to eat at 2, what that really means is 3. While I'm on the number 3, I'd be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to complain about the 3 p.m. dinners. I know people who live in assisted living centers and go to bed at 7 p.m. that eat later than 3. If we eat dinner at 3 (which really means we'll eat at 4) that means we'll probably fininsh eating by about 4:45. This doesn't sound too bad until you realize that you've got (bare minimum) another 6 (probably closer to 7 or 8) hours of awake time to get through with no more meals.

This wouldn't really be such a problem if there weren't multiple holiday gatherings to go to during the day. The problem happens when we've got a 2 o'clock lunch to go to followed by a 3 or 4 o'clock dinner to go to. Who wants to eat a big holiday lunch, choke down some dessert, get in their car, drive 25 minutes, and have to fill their plate all over again for dinner at another relative's house less than hour later?

Even if we didn't have to go to multiple people's houses in one day, these silly eating times would still present us with the dilemma of when to eat our other meals. If lunch is at 2, what time should we eat breakfast? Eat too early and you'll be starving by the time you get to eat lunch and you'll probably over eat. Eat too late to try to compensate for the later lunch start time and you won't be hungry when the time finally comes to eat lunch. If we're eating dinner at 3, the problem is multiplied by complicating when to consume both breakfast and lunch.

Is my family the only family that struggles with this strange, irrational holiday meal time confusion or is this the norm in all families? In 2008 and in the years to come, it is my hope and my wish that meals at family get togethers will happen at reasonable times. Not wanting to trust anything to chance, I propose the following standard holiday meal schedule:
  • Breakfasts should be scheduled between 7 and (at the very latest) 10 a.m.
  • Lunches should be scheduled between 11 a.m. and (at the very latest) 1 p.m.
  • Dinners should be scheduled between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m.
I think what I have proposed here is both simple and fair and we would all do well to incorporate this standard meal schedule into our holiday traditions.

If you take issue with having such a strict and rigid standard meal schedule for holiday meal times, please at least humor me by considering the following examples of standardization that have made all of our lives easier:
  • What would our lives be like without the universal serial bus computing standard commonly known as USB?
  • What would putting gas in our cars be like without standardized gas tank openings and gasoline pump nozzle sizes?
  • Imagine how confusing life would be if light switches weren't standardized? What would your life be like if you flipped the switch up and the lights went out? Scary, isn't it?
  • Still not convinced that we need standards like I have proposed? Try living a day without the standard commonly referred to by those in the science community as gravity. Thank you very much Isaac Newton.
Are you planning a family gathering in the coming days or weeks? Use my standard meal schedule and your event is guaranteed to be a smash hit with all who are blessed enough to attend your gathering and benefit from your great planning, foresight, and attention to detail.


  1. WOW! I hope you feel relieved to have got that all out! :)

  2. Anonymous7:25 PM

    I laughed so ahrd reading this there where tears running down my face!!

    How about dinner this week, say around 8:00 PM or so?

    Love, Mom

  3. Anonymous7:26 PM

    OK so I can't type..... with tears running down my face!