Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Birthdays Are for Portion Control (My Version of It).

The famous Kim Smart Family enchiladas, available in cheese or chicken. I'll take both.

Every birthday where Mom's like, "What do you want for dinner?"- it's the same request: Enchiladas. Hers have a certain texture and heightened savory-factor that sets them apart from any other version. They are my religion. Which is why I ate more than my fair share of this batch. Yes, that is a Mormon Funeral-sized casserole pan, and yes, I ate most of its melty, corn tortilla-swaddled contents. But that's because it is MY BIRTHDAY (life's biggest Get Out of Jail Free card). But that's not all I ate. There was ice cream. Cartons and cartons of ice cream...even after I told my mom "don't buy any cake and ice cream!"

That's right, we did that.

Actually, my mom, the clever woman that she is, bought miniature cartons. She has always been the number one champion of our self-esteems. My sisters and I stress about what we ate for dinner, and she tells us we are allowed to eat enough to get full, and that we are gorgeous and have amazing bodies. Never once has she agreed with our body-bashing. So, naturally, she wanted me to have ice cream, especially because I was so obviously trying to deprive myself of it. ON MY BIRTHDAY.

I swear, I'll start eating everything with this.

So, this spoon is my new best friend. My mom and sisters and I huddled around the counter, slowly tonguing our way through tiny spoonfuls of all-natural dairy bliss. After we had finished our carton, we were more physically and mentally satisfied than I've ever been after a dessert (for example, had it been cheesecake, I would have needed at least two more pieces. But the miniature size made us slow down and appreciate the bites we had in front of us, not the ones that we'd have AFTER the ones in front of us).

Food coma? Not yet. Let us not forget gifts! Gifts: I almost hate the word. My yoga teacher brought up an interesting philosophy: We should not accept gifts, nor give them; if you're the recipient, we should not be given something that we have not created for ourselves. And if you're the giver, we should not create a debtor's bond. I think I took a few liberties here, but you get the point.

My first experiment with giftlessness was Christmas of 2008. I told friends and family not to give me gifts (my mom didn't listen, of course), and as gifts to them, I painted small, terra cotta pots with words and picture I thought personified its recipient. Though I figured the recievers would probably snicker at the gift, I went through with it. And at my birthday dinner at my mom's house last night, guess what I saw? My mom's terra cotta pot on a bookshelf, filled with trinkets; and my sister's, hosting a plant on the windowsill.

Anyway, I was over the moon when my mom said, "I know you like to keep things simple..." and gestured to a happy, green houseplant on the table, surrounded by a pile of cards.

My siblings gave me cards, and my mom, in addition to slaving away on food, found me this plant.

My heart sung when I realized my family had made conscious choices regarding gifts: A plant that looked like it belonged in my new home, a funny card tailored perfectly to my humor, authentic words of beautiful love and praise, and food for my soul. Plus, I was laughing with my family. Who could ask for more?

Well, of course my husband spoiled me. Flowers to the office (which surprised me, because, since we work, in the same office, he proved he wasn't afraid of a little PDA), and a pair of high-quality, polarized sunglasses I've been needing for months. *sigh* I love him.

But the overall theme this birthday was portion control, in the sense that: My gifts were to scale of my desires (I didn't want my family to be burdened with consumerism in order to celebrate my birthday); I discovered that eating slow - from portioned containers - keeps you in the moment; and then, that I let myself have as many cookies and enchiladas as I wanted (because I am satisfied with leaving those for special occasions).

In my new life, less is truly more. It works for me.

Maybe one year older does mean I'm getting a little bit wiser....?


  1. i just found your blog and i love it! what a sweet, simple birthday. what is the age gap between you and Chris? there are 11 years between me and my husband so i am always curious :)

  2. Andrea! Thank you so much for coming over to my little blog!

    11 years...that's how you could tell we have an age gap! Chris and I are 17 years apart. Are you the elder or the younger? Do you think you experience anything different in your relationship because of the gap?

  3. i'm the younger one. when we first got together (i was 24, now 31), there were some weird generational things that made us look at each other and go, "whoa, how do you not know that?" it was funny more than anything. if you are compatible, who cares about the age? we are both young at heart and that's what counts, right? glad you've met your match!