Rendered Fat Content


Baldassare de Caro: A hunting still life with a goose, ducks, pigeons, songbirds and a dog in a landscape (Early 18th Century)
"On even the darkest evenings, I light a fresh candle."

The olde carol reports that Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat. Hardly headline news, that. Feed a goose a freaking dandelion and it will turn that weed into the finest, silkiest Schmaltz. The carol might have more usefully proclaimed that Christmas is coming and you're getting fat, for a human's metabolism seems to shift into goose mode as the winter's holidays approach. Truth told, few of us even try to subsist upon a diet of dandelion buds in any season. As snow falls, we, instead, commence to buying heavy whipping cream by the quart and butters and sugars we haven't bought since this time last year. We refer to our excesses as cheer, which beats drowning them in remorseful tears. We can save our remorse for Lent, wherein we can regret what might seem, there on the cusp of spring, a serious personal shortcoming visiting around Solstice past. In this moment, hearts sing without the slightest sensation of any impending smothering. We have no interest in balancing anything. Let church bells ring, we're celebrating!

Our genome remembers those times before the advent of central heating, when survival required defensive fat layering.
Shorter days and longer nights encourage a certain slothfulness reinforcing retention of a higher proportion of calories consumed. We increase our intake as if to compensate. If my nurse practitioner accepted a goose as a patient, she'd prescribe something to lower those triglycerides. There's little hope of any of us passing muster until this season's past. Whatever our convictions through harvest season, they abandon us just before Thanksgiving. They will not be returning until Epiphany, if then.

The Muse maintains the sacred traditions in this family. She's the one who bakes the Stollen, infusing this tired place with the proper seasonal aromas. The season seems staved off until after the kitchen floor gets dusted with a little powdered sugar. After, the pace accelerates, potted plants relocate, and furniture moves. I start celebrating by hauling up the boxed decorations which she, alone, will place. I'll return the empties to those basement shelves, the very soul of the helpful elf. She might enlist me when stringing lights. Otherwise, it's by rights her performance. I'm witness.

We fatten ourselves on memories as she trims the tree, each ornament representing something significant. She places a ceramic Santa on each horizontal surface. That miniature manger her mom made for her, featuring real straw bales and a plug-in light source, will displace the usual tabletop books. The cats will deeply appreciate all the bobbles they'll bat. The tree, a fairly decent bottle brush because The Muse is allergic to indoor conifers. I defer to her judgement.

I collect images, open-sourced and available for gratis, to adorn my Christmas poems. I notice my stockpile having grown thin and so I set about collecting about a dozen times more than I'll ever seriously consider using. I won't start until Solstice and I'll finish by Christmas morning. I won't purchase gifts. I write my poems for sharing, though they utterly first depend upon my successful fattening. I must store up a requisite quantity of hope before beginning. However grim the out-going year, I simply must accumulate a certain stockpile of cheer. I dare not dabble in nihilism now. If I cannot believe anew, I'm through before the New Year comes. The scents of this season seem reassuring. Even in the depth of This Damned Pandemic, Stollen's baking. On even the darkest evenings, I light a fresh candle.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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