This has been a great holiday season so far – relaxing and hectic with the usual line-up of family gatherings, weddings, seasonal revelry and food orgies. It was surprisingly rewarding to meet up with old friends and long lost family and, at times, to quietly observe the bees-knees of family parties pretend ignorance at not knowing you as they teetered past on high heels and low self-esteem.
I felt stunning and confident – a combination I hadn’t experienced in far too long (shocking I know!) – despite the fact that I was miles away from my goal weight. But my carefully selected wardrobe for the season sucked me in and let me out at all the right places (Slim Trinny and bonny Susannah from TLC’s What Not To Wear would have approved), so I was in no immediate danger of letting my sedentariness bulge through. The icing on the cake was when I saw how other ample-waisted women trussed themselves up in clothes that left nothing to the imagination displaying assets in ways that were too close to the unflattering truth. I was pleased as punch! (Ah! Where would we be without life’s little thrills?) So all in all, I was doing pretty darn good! Until a few unsettling comments about how unrecognisible I looked threw me clean off balance.
Now normally, I would let such comments slide, for I felt partly responsible as I really had piled on the pounds. (Apologies to the afore-mentioned bees-knees here who in all probability did not recognize me.) An over-indulgent husband, OCCD (obsessive compulsive culinary distraction), too much loyalty to the couch… take your pick. So basically I felt guilty for being fat! But not lately when I’d pulled off a decent job on myself before every family outing and practically started World War III at home in the process!
One old time acquaintance stumbled embarrassingly over the ‘fat’ word as he clutched at straws to explain his jaw-dropping greeting at my appearance. ‘You’re gone so….,’ he said leaving the obvious unsaid, when I bailed him out and said, ‘fat’, matter-of-factly. As if that wasn’t enough, apparently I had lost my ‘girly charm’. Now everyone knows that that’s code for old! OLD! Although, in all fairness, I don’t think that was the intent. The comment though was annoyingly persistent.
Anyway, this got me thinking of how much a part of my nature girliness was. I stared down thoughtfully at the scarlet iridescence of my nails and -bam! Guilty as charged! Because for me being girly is synonymous with childlike adventurousness, barefooted beach runs, nail polish, and, around the holidays the heady smells of freshly baked goodies like this deeply spiced dark fruit cake. This bejeweled confection is the quintessence of Christmas and for me it is what the holidays are all about.
Let’s face it, most of us would have crossed paths with a dark fruit cake or two during Christmas, whether you choose to give it a bad rap or embrace its resiny splendor as I do.
It is inextricably linked with the Christmases of my growing years and their attendant festive mayhem which was all part of family fun. Daddy didn’t just churn out wonderful fruit cake as he worked some good elbow grease through the batter (with the invaluable assistance of us kids no doubt), he was making memories that we recreate and rediscover each Christmas. Of course, I’ve spiked mine here with my own shot of tradition.
To indulge in this festive treat, therefore, is to revisit childhood Christmases and that holiday era (gosh I make myself sound like a fossil!) of carefree abandon, presents under the Christmas tree, excitement over an impending visit from Old St Nick, last minute treats… there’s more proof to make that ‘girly’ charge stick! This, for me, is Christmas – an accumulation of carefully reconstructed memories scattered over time like the swollen mass of drunken fruit that is spliced through this excessively rich dark fruit cake – to be enjoyed over tea time twittering or as just a solitary indulgence that turns back the hands of time.
I look up from my computer and my eye catches my reflection in the mirror. Almost involuntarily, I get up and walk towards it trying to see if I can spot any traces of the ‘girly charm’ that I’ve presumably lost. One look at the stubborn arch of these jet brows and I know that ‘charm’ has no place here. Then I take in the laughing eyes and lopsided grin and think, ‘This ‘girl’ ain’t goin’ nowhere!’