No matter how brief the visit, or how welcome the guests, I’m always exhausted after they leave.  There’s no good reason for it.  As much as I try to keep the house tidy, it’s in a very laid-back way, and stress only kicks in after they’ve gone, the sheets have been laundered, and all has been restored to its former glory.  Whence this agita?

Diet failure, in part.  Catering to this group’s dietary preferences means Mexican food and lots of beer.  Waffles with syrup for breakfast.  Constant snacking.  Enough caffeine to kill a lesser man.  In short, the AZ/NM meal plan that caused me to balloon to such an ungainly size.  This carb and cheese glut didn’t just make me feel polluted, but it actually brought back the misery I felt when I first moved to Phoenix.   I hadn’t realized it until I started to type it all onto the page.  (Behold the power of blogging!  If that’s what we’re calling it now.)

So here are the lessons learned from this fail:

Even on holiday, I don’t have to eat what other people are eating.  Yes, it will sting to spend a day and a half cooking food I won’t get to eat, but the math hasn’t changed just because the calendar has.  My body does not need ranchero beans, spicy Cuban black beans, cumin rice, posole, tons of cheese, tortillas, or any manifestation of corn in all its splendor.  It does not need chips, dips, chains, or whips (whipped cream, anyway.)  It certainly does not need schooners of high-grade beer, be it domestic, foreign, or homebrew.  I can grill marinated vegetables and delicate bits of chicken.  I can drink club soda with bitters, or iced tea with lemon.  I can crunch on raw veggies and dilled string beans and all manner of pickles.  I am not a bad host for not sharing food I put on the table for my guests.  They can help themselves to my veggies.  I simply can’t share their starch bombs.

Holidays, be they calendar or self-made, must not be celebrated by toxic excess in food intake.  Sybaritic pleasures need not (should not!) revolve around the table.  One may be a gourmand without being a glutton.  It’s hard to cook a leg of lamb for two, or roast a good mix of winter vegetables, but I can do lamb shanks and a single vegetable instead.  Parsnips for two can be done.  Love will find a way.

Bad moods may be avoided or ameliorated with a large glass of water, a hot cup of tea, and a brisk walk in cool air.  It’s over 80F here and now, which is far too warm for me to be engaging in physical activity, but it’s never too hot for tea.  The ritual is as important as the restorative properties.  During my hairy-scary college days, tea saw me through, in part because I endowed the process with this power.  It’s good to create my own lever, my own reset button, and that this button be harmless and legal.  (But even with coffee, I’ll stick to decaf, or half-caf on a wild day.  Given the effect it has on my moods, I can’t imagine what I’d be like on meth.  It doesn’t bear contemplation, really.)

And last but not least:  refreshers and reminders, lest I forget the useful tools I’ve acquired, or let them fall by the wayside.  (My foray into kendo was brief, but should come in handy:  ichi!  ni!  more focus!)  Learning new tricks is wonderful, but I need to cleave unto those that are not new.  If I can keep those few facts in mind, I’ll be fine.