Peace is better than chocolate

Happy Easter! Now leave me alone.

I don’t do holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are no longer a part of my life. I haven’t celebrated them since I got control of my eating.

Let’s be honest. Holidays, especially the family centered ones, are about food. You get together with as many of your relatives as you can pack into a home, people cook their most decadent dishes, and then you eat yourselves into oblivion.

First, I don’t eat like that anymore. Ever. I can’t afford to start if I won’t be able to stop. And second, I don’t like my family.

They are good people as individuals (with a few notable exceptions), but as a group, my family’s dynamic is one of passive-aggressiveness, and cruel humor. Yes, they are incredibly funny. But nearly always at someone else’s expense. And as the most sensitive member of the family, I was by far the easiest target.  And there are a lot of them. My mother is the second oldest of 11 kids. I have 23 cousins and a brother on that side. To be the girl with a bull’s-eye on her forehead in a room full of 30+ people was a horrible experience. I can remember being reprimanded regularly by my mother for being “too sensitive” when they made me cry. I never learned that lesson though. I’m sensitive. I don’t deal well with people being mean to me. Now I just surround myself with people who are nice to me. People who treat me like they like me. And that’s not my family.

The other thing is that I ate over feelings. Especially the kind of shame and humiliation that my family specializes in. And I come from a family of eaters. So any holiday will always have a ready supply of exactly the foods that can make me numb. And Aunt So-and-so saying something nasty about the way I look, or Uncle Whoever making an obnoxious remark about something stupid I did 15 years ago, is the kind of thing that makes me want to be numb. I can already hear the fat girl inside me: Oh, don’t mind them, Kate. Look! There are chocolate bunnies!

I’m strong. I’m committed to having my food under control. I’ve done it every day for over six years. But I have absolutely no desire to test that commitment by being surrounded by both sugar, and people who make me want to eat it. And for Easter? Well, that doesn’t seem like a particularly good reason to me. I don’t practice any religion anymore anyway.

And I don’t want to go to anybody else’s family either. Not to avoid being alone. Just because it’s a holiday. I don’t want to have to explain what I do with food. I don’t want to have to tell your grandmother why I can’t have any of her special cookies. No, not even just one. Not just a taste. I don’t want to be the ill-mannered guest, whom your family was kind enough to invite because she didn’t have anywhere else to go. I do have someplace to go. I just don’t want to go there. I don’t do holidays. And I don’t mind at all.

People expect that I’m lonely. They tell me I’m lonely. Because they would apparently be lonely without somewhere to go for a holiday. But the fact of the matter is that I like to be alone. Any time. And on holidays especially. Post childhood, the only thing I ever really liked about them was food. Not just food, but eating ridiculous amounts of food. And in the open. Because everyone was over-eating. In the open.  So much of my eating was done in hiding when I was eating compulsively. I was ashamed of it, so I did as little of it in front of people as I could. But holidays were when I could look around at everybody and see them being as gluttonous as I was. It was a relief. But not eating compulsively any time, for any reason, is a much bigger relief. I do not feel deprived. I promise, I had more than my share of chocolate bunnies for the first 28 years of my life. In fact, I had my share, your share, and the shares of 2 or 3 other people.

Maybe if I have a family of my own someday, I will want to celebrate holidays again. Not with the gluttonous eating, of course. But with traditions and gatherings. I can imagine that Christmas or Easter might look different to me if I were looking at it through the lens of a family I made myself, rather than the one I was born into. But in the meantime, I will happily celebrate the holidays by spending time with the person whose company I enjoy the most. Me.


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