I don’t mean to be a Grinch, but there’s some things about the holidays you almost have to love to hate: long lines at store checkouts, endless music reels pumping out Muzak versions of the Little Drummer Boy, the cost of shipping gifts to far-away relatives.
Then there’s the temptation of home-baked goods. It’s another love-hate thing. My tastebuds love the abundance of butter tarts, chocolate treats and assorted nummy-nums, but trying to remove said treats from my thighs come January is not half as much fun.
Each year, I vow to try and do the season differently, to shop in dribs and drabs all year long to avoid both the crush at the stores and on my December bank balance. And yet, each year, Christmas seems to creep up on me until, I’m blowing into shops like a freight train, desperate to fill a stocking or get a gift that needs to be delivered yesterday.
Clearly, I’m not alone. After all, nobody is forced to wait till December to buy gifts, yet every year, people do so in droves, forced to plunge with abandon into the holly-decorated hotbeds of consumer goods in search of just the right gift.
These are minor annoyances really. In reality, I am and should be grateful that I have these so-called problems. There are so many who do not have the wherewithal to eat with abandon or enjoy abundance under the Christmas tree.
But there’s one thing about the holiday season that has irked me for a few years, and this time I need to vent about it.
For a bit of background, the Observer has, for a number of years, offered a promotion where readers bring in donations to the food bank and, in exchange, can pick a gift envelope off our Christmas tree.
In the envelopes are gift certificates from various participating businesses, who have generously donated these rewards for giving.
It’s a great promotion and we stockpile a tidy store of non-perishable goods for the food bank.
Now to the irk part.
To our surprise, there is a problem with some of the people who come in, bearing their requisite bags of food for donation. They receive their envelope and toddle on their merry way. It’s not until later that our staff discovers that their generously filled bags of food are actually filled with expired goods — frequently these items have been expired for many years.
To me, there can be no more Grinchy thing than to try and foist your potentially unsafe food in a supposed act of charitable goodwill.
The problem became so prevalent that this year we actually had to include a caveat in our advertising that people not bring expired food. And still we have found long-past-best-before items among this year’s collection.
In my mind, a charitable gift is more than foisting off your discards on those less fortunate.