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Larry Penkava: During the holidays, feast beats famine every time

’Tis the season to be roly-poly.


Or, as Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary has it, “being short and pudgy: ROTUND.”


I’m not exactly sure why the dictionary puts rotund in all caps, but I’m guessing it’s perhaps to illustrate the state of rotundness.


I looked up “rotund” in Mr. Webster’s tome and found his definition to be “marked by roundness. ...”


The word always reminds me of rotunda, defined by Webster as “a round building, especially one covered by a dome. ...”


I’ve heard people, in bouts of self-deprecation, making comments such as “I’m as big as a house.”


In other words, rotund. And if the person is also bald, he’s a rotunda, as per definition (see above).


’Tis the season to be rotund, I suppose, would be another way to put it. And that’s not just because the jolly ol’ elf is known for being “notably plump: chubby,” as per Webster.


It’s because you can hardly go anywhere without being offered candy canes, cupcakes, chocolate candy, hot chocolate, fruitcake or other sugar-laden goodies during this season of good cheer.


And if that’s not enough to tighten your belt, there are the parties, luncheons, dinners and after-dinner snacks that prevail this time of the year. 


For instance, Ginny and I went to the YMCA’s holiday lunch with a buffet line that necessitated heavy-duty serving tables. After I was suitably stuffed, I remarked that the Y should institute a weight-loss class in January.


Not the least of the holiday events is the family dinner. That’s when the leaves are added to the dining room table, extra chairs are brought in from the parlor and the extended clan sits down for a big feed unparalleled by anything else during the year except for the Thanksgiving meal.


Parents, children, grandkids, aunts and uncles pass around the bounty, including such delights as mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams, squash casserole, black-eyed peas, green beans, buttered rolls and sweet tea.


But the centerpiece is the turkey. It’s cooked to a golden brown on the outside and juicy white on the inside. 


The spicy dressing and tangy cranberry sauce complete the cornucopic picture.


Then there’s dessert. At our house that means pumpkin and pecan pies for sure with optional dishes such as carrot cake, cheesecake, pound cake or red velvet cake. And if we’re lucky, there’s persimmon puddin’.


Scattered around are assorted fruits, nuts and candies for those hunger pangs that return after the football game.


It’s funny — almost biblical, in fact — how a butterball turkey expands to fill the stomachs of everybody in the extended family. 


Just think about it. A 20-pound turkey can put 20 pounds on 20 people. Talk about miracles.


But the real miracle is taking off those 20 pounds after the first of the year.


That’s when you see all those pudgies at the gym, red in the face as their newly-formed jelly bellies jiggle and wiggle during sessions on the treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical and rowing machines.


Their recently renewed vigor for vitality normally lasts as long as the tape measure around their middles. One weigh-in at the Health O Meter after a particularly rugged meeting with the ab master can tip the scales toward abstinence from further gluttonous behavior in the future.


But alas, spring soon arrives, accompanied by afternoon cookouts on the patio, summer vacations in locales filled with eateries, and night baseball in parks catering to lovers of hot dogs, nachos, pizza and other fat-filled treats.


Then it’s fall again and the cycle continues.


For most of us, the feast-and-famine order of things tends to swing more toward feast than famine. And like a centrifugal machine that pulls all the weight to one point — the waistband — our seasons do the same.


We may swing away from food for a time, but eventually we swing back for more. It’s in our genes, not to mention our fatty acids.


As it was so succinctly stated by a wise man many centuries ago: “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you diet.”


I couldn’t have said it any better myself.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.