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When J and I were passing around a few Valentine’s Day ideas, the only idea I was opposed to was the big, fancy dinner.  While sharing a nice meal together can be a great bonding experience, the day puts a lot of pressure on the couple to choose the best, most romantic, dimly lit, aromatic, gourmet experience.  Since J and I already share a meal together every day and didn’t want to deal with making reservations ahead of time or choosing outfits, we both opted for a daytime activity.  Call us underachievers all you want, but the day played out beautifully, with a little help from the Chinese Lunar calendar.

Around noon, we went to Chinatown to see the Chinese New Year parade and bought some fire crackers to cast out the evil spirits from our home.  Then we did some low key shopping, were given a bouquet of flowers at the Jack Spade store and sniffed a bunch of crazy soaps at Lush.  We didn’t get hungry enough to eat out so we opted for small snacks from Balthazar bakery and went home feeling completely satisfied and happy.

Dinner was curried salmon, ordered in while we watched “How to Steal a Million”, which turned out to be quite a romantic heist film starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole. I’m so surprised I’d never heard of it before.  It’s funny, exciting, romantic and has aged very well.   And to finally come to my point, seeing Audrey Hepburn’s slender figure reminded me of the weight loss track I’ve been on and how not-guilty I felt.  I wish I could have said the same  for New Year’s Eve, Christmas, Thanksgiving, J’s birthday or even my birthday, all the way back in July!  In fact, I still feel kind of full from that last one.

I am drawing 2 conclusions from our wonderful Sunday.

1-  On special days, it’s better to make a loose plan and have a positive, open attitude.  Great expectations can lead to great disappointments (or quarrels!).

2-  Celebrations don’t have to center around food!

Food plays an important part in all of our cultures.  Most holiday celebrations I know of either have a food associated with it or a feast is supposed to take place on that day (except for the Rio Carnival; do the dancers eat anything special??? )

At big family gatherings too, it’s safer to sit everyone down at a table and occupy their mouths with something other than potential barbs thrown at each other.  That might seem like a bleak view of the big family gathering but I think deep down we all know that the dinner table takes the center stage because delicious food is something we all agree on.   I am not going to criticize anyone for trying to spread enjoyment instead of dysfunction here.  However, for those of us that are still trying to establish healthy habits, the holiday feast is often a heavy, guilt-inducing setback.  Kudos to the people who can say no to dessert when they’re already full!  Bravo to those who can limit their portions and choose to eat more of the greens on the table!  I am going to be like that some day soon.  But for now,  I’ll be avoiding those big dinners and limit my indulgences to a couple of snacks every week.

PS. After writing this entry, I saw this article on the Bon Appetit website; it’s a list of reasons why we shouldn’t eat out on Valentine’s day.  Ha!

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