“Only Mennonites,” I thought Christmas evening, waiting in the food line behind an assortment of brothers and sisters, nieces and grandparents.
Ham, turkey breasts, turkey with barbecue, dinner rolls, lettuce salad, cranberry salad, mashed potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, chicken noodle soup, cheese ball and crackers–all spread out on the cupboards of our farmhouse kitchen.
In the library, the dessert table resided over limited space. Rice-Crispy bars. Party mix. Popcorn. Fruit tapioca. Candy. Cookies in many varieties.
Only Mennonites would eat a huge, full-course Christmas dinner followed six hours later by a huge, full-course Christmas supper.
I don’t think I am being racist in saying this–only stating facts.
One of my aunts used to cater weddings and she said the caterers had to cook twice as much food for a Mennonite wedding as they did for a “normal” wedding, even when the amount of people was the same. The Mennonites would come to the wedding and load up.
No doubt Mennonites grow this mentality along with their children on their farms.
I know at my house, coming as I do from a family of eight children, the concept is clear: If the food is good, eat it now. If you wait a few hours or until the next day, you might just have missed your chance and experience the disappointment of looking down into an empty bowl.
At my house, it is not unusual to find small, tin-foil-covered plates hidden behind the bread maker or in a back corner of the fridge. Food saved for later.
In fifty years, when I have lost my youthful slimness and grown obese and diabetic, I will explain this big-family, Mennonite phenomenon to my psychiatrist.
“There are many years when I made the traditional American New Year’s resolution to eat less and to cut back on sugar,” I will tell her, teary-eyed. “But coming from the family that I did, candy, cake, and carbohydrate-laden foods were constantly accessible during my youngest years–and often the only types of food available for consumption. In my teens and early twenties, every time I determined to change my eating habits, I experienced a strong inner urge to eat more, and to eat more unhealthily than ever before. This urge was a primitive response harking back to my childhood and NOT MY FAULT.”
Here I will look down for a minute, fighting to control my emotions.
“After years of vainly battling my early conditioning, I came to the realization that attempting to diet only tore down my resolve and any food sense I possessed, and I gave up the effort altogether.”
My psychiatrist will understand.
Hopefully my doctor will cut me some slack.