Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Sugar Shack

Me (Standing): Hi. My name is Ken Craig…and I’m addicted to sugar.
Rest of the world: Hi, Ken…
Me (Taking deep breath): Well, I suppose it all started this past holiday season…

We as a society have embraced the reality that from the last week of November through the end of the year is pretty much a food fest, right? Well, for some wonderful reason, Food Fest 2005 was easily the most abundantly delectable year ever for our household. It was plate after plate after plate after plate after plate after plate of sweet, sugary, chocolaty, fudgy, bread-y, gooey goodness. It was magical. Generous friends and neighbors after generous friends and neighbors dropping off treats like clockwork. It actually became labor intensive to try and finish it all off. It was like we were spending the holidays at Willy Wonka’s factory. No, it was like we had moved to the town of Chewandswallow in the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the weatherman predicted ‘sweets.’

I loved every delicious, fattening moment of it.

Then, one night at dinner, Katie had an idea. An awful idea! My wife had a wonderful, awful idea!

“You know,” she said, carving a slice of dinner-cake for herself, “We’ve really been eating a lot of sugar this month.”

“I’ll say!” I chimed in, serving myself seconds of the fresh fudge and toffee and topping off my Eggnog. “It’s glorious, isn’t it kids!”

“Oh, yes, father!” they agreed, pouring dressing on their tossed lemon bars. “Is this what they mean by Christmas Spirit?”

This is it!” I validated, taking a napkin and wiping some kind of glucose-generated froth off my youngest daughter’s mouth.

“Well,” Katie spoke up, “I was thinking that since December has been our month of sugar, maybe January could be our month of NO sugar.”

We all froze…perfectly still. Just kidding. Of course there was way too much sugar coursing through us to actually be “still,” but it definitely got quieter. Then the kids spoke up, lead by my eager-to-please daughter Abbie, “That’s a great idea, Mom!”

“Are you INSANE!?” I thought to myself. “How could a person actually cut out sugar? And WHY – for the love of heaven, WHY?!”

I mean, in theory I agreed with Katie. And when I say “in theory,” what I mean is that I didn’t really agree with her at all. What she was essentially saying was, “Since December was a month of happiness, how about January be a month of NO happiness?”

But after we put the kids in bed to enjoy their sugar-induced comas, Katie and I got out some hot chocolate and pumpkin pie, sat on the couch, and discussed the idea some more. For the sake of an enormous dental bill, we decided to take a stab at it. And on December 31st, we put all items containing sugar in the trash. In actuality, I thought it was a pretty good idea.

Around noon on January 1st, I thought it was a horrible idea. My body wanted sugar like Jim Carrey wants an Academy Award. So I decided that rather than immediately cut out sugar from my diet, I would slowly wean myself off the stuff. So slowly, in fact, that January 1st was pretty much like any day in December. Once I started back at work, however, it became easier, simply because it wasn’t there. Except for the bag of Snickers bars that I purchased and kept in my drawer. You know, they say small portions of the poison are supposed to help when you’re weaning. That’s not me talkin’, folks, that’s SCIENCE!

Once I had my days under control, I felt better. My nights, though…oh, my nights. It’s tradition for Katie and I to enjoy a treat together regularly at night when we are unwinding. That wasn’t just a December thing – that’s a 10 years of marriage thing! So at night, when we’d be sitting watching TV or reading or something, I was jonesin’ something fierce. Often were the nights I would casually announce that I was going to the kitchen to get a drink of sugar-free tap water, but once there, I would frantically tear that kitchen apart as if I could smell sugar coming from somewhere.

Start with the freezer. Hmm…frozen corn! Aw, it’s not even Sweet Corn! Next, the fridge. Hey – cheese! Does cheese have sugar? It’s dairy – same family as ice cream. Maybe a cold bowl of cheese! No. Then, the pantry. Come on, come on…there’s got to be something sugary in here. Hello, what’s this in the back…behind the cooking oil – hey, cooking oil? Nah. – but what is this back here…it’s…it’s…oh, hold me; it’s a single, old packet of Nestle hot chocolate, long since forgotten. It’s a New Year’s miracle!

Well, January is over, and sugar is allowed on the premises once again. I can’t say that I successfully went 100% sugar-free in the month of January. But I can tell you that it will be a long time before I put Snickerdoodles and wassail on the table and call it dinner. And I’m okay with that. Yeah…I’m growing.