“I’m getting used to having two or three sweets after lunch,” my wife declared with an eye roll. I know how she feels.  Two or three is just the beginning of an afternoon that includes a few cookies here and there, a sweet for teatime, and then something indulgent to wind up dinner. 

Cardamom bread

It’s a good thing Christmas comes but once a year. 

I’m not sure how we got into this fix, but I know some of the blame lies with me. I had to get a locally-baked German-style stollen, a light and fragrant Italian panettone and steamed old-school persimmon pudding, from SoNo Baking in Norwalk.  In addition, the Scandinavian Butik was the source for a loaf of traditional cardamom bread. 

Leading up to Christmas there is a frenzy of cookie baking.  Marsha gears up for sugar cookies cut into the shape of santas, stars and bells.  Crisp balsam-green Christmas trees are squeezed from a cookie press and sprinkled with red and green sugar. Chocolate crinkles perfume the kitchen. 

There’s a batch of pecan fingers, a tradition in Marsha’s family, and spiced pecans from my mother’s recipe box.  We can’t get by without the irresistible year-round favorite oatmeal-raisin cookies. 

And then there’s the fudge (no nuts please).  Of my many weaknesses this is perhaps the greatest. In return for helping to stir the bubbling cauldron, I get to scrape the pot and eat what I glean.  In the course of cutting the squares, there’s always a few mistakes to be eaten. The actual chunks of fudge seem to go down as easy as popcorn. 

From the Hungarian bakers at Cafe Dolce in Norwalk I got three traditional beigli – pinwheels of thin twice-proofed dough rolled around fillings: ground walnuts, poppyseed, and (new this year) orange marzipan.  Oh Wow!

For family gatherings our niece brings a platter of her specialties: Macarons, shortbreads, and molasses cookies this year. 

Marsha’s sister contributes her fruitcake cookies and a mince pie.  

These goodies are all in the “eat it or freeze it” category – pretty much out of the picture by New Year’s. But the box of chocolates lives on.

In a weak moment leading up to the holidays, we acquired a two-pound box of assorted chocolates from Krause’s Hand-Made Chocolates in Saugerties, NY.  With so much other stuff, the box, usually passed around the table after holiday dinner, remained unopened.  But not for long.   

It’s an overwhelming avalanche of sweet treats.  

I love it. But now it’s time to pay the piper. 

Since I didn’t get any elastic-waist trousers under the tree it’s time to fit into what fit before Thanksgiving.  

While January is generally quiet for the retail and food business, I’m told it’s the high season for weight loss and exercise entrepreneurs. 

Numerous schemes for dealing with the inevitable results of holiday excess are advertised on TV, social media, and in print. Some are scientific, others are motivational, and the best – a combination of the two.  In essence, it comes down to this: Eat less! 

Weight Watchers (now rebranded as WW) has always been the go-to in our house. Marsha is a member and I’m along for the ride. Foods are assigned a point value and through an easy-to-use app, calculating what and how much you can eat is a snap. 

Want to eat a cupcake for breakfast?  Go ahead, but it might be all your points for the day, leaving the prospect of a celery and carrot binge.  When used faithfully, WW brings some food sanity and common sense to compensate for past sins. 

It’s also the prime season for exercise resolutions and gym memberships. Yes, regular and vigorous exercise will burn up some calories, but not an unlimited number. “You can’t outrun your fork,” they say. 

It’s a combination of the two that works. That’s why you’ll see us out on a morning walk and then shopping for fish and chicken breasts later in the day. 

Gotta get back in shape.  Marsha just announced, “Next year I’m going to make divinity.”

Frank Whitman can be reached at NotBreadAloneFW@gmail.com.