For most of us, that means friends, family, and holding back tears after we realize the only way we’re getting into our jeans involves Crisco and those belt extenders they sell in SkyMall.
So what coma-inducing culinary delights are we trying to dry-clean out of our holiday sweaters this year? We asked around and compiled a list of holiday food traditions that are making us equal proportions of hungry, nervous, and confused.
Based on the sheer number of holiday dishes we were introduced to that made use of Jell-O in one creative manner or another, we’re inclined to say that it has taken hold as an oozing, gelatinous classic.
Friends described everything from the traditional yet horrifying carrot and lime Jell-O salad to the reportedly delicious Jell-O, pretzel, and cream cheese casserole, to the one kind of alcohol we might actually turn down: a nightmarish mix of sugar-free Jell-O, Sambuca, and yogurt.
Yet another common theme seems to the be the food that only one family member will eat:
“My step mom always has to have rutabaga mush at Thanksgiving, but she’s the only one who ever eats it.” – Alden, Virgin Islands
“My grandfather always makes sure that there is traditional goat curry and rice. He will never eat it, but it always has to be there for Thanksgiving.” – Miral, New York
“My mom always makes the grossest version of a hot toddy ever at Christmas. It involves a cup of hot scotch and orange peels. It could put hair on a baby’s chest. Nobody else will go near it.” – Hannah, New Jersey
No pants-popping meal is complete without the addition of some serious carbs:
“My German grandmother, in what is either the laziest attempt at cooking or a kind of sweet nod toward her adopted American culture, makes anall-bread casserole every Christmas: stale bread, milk, breadcrumbs, and a little bit of American cheese to bind it all together. It’s like macaroni and cheese without any of the good parts.” – Rachel, New York
“We eat mayonnaise rolls as a substitution for baked bread. After Thanksgiving had passed, and whoever had cooked was sick of slaving over homemade, oven-cooked bread, a quick alternative would be needed for the following holiday, so on Christmas we’d usually have Mayonnaise Rolls. They’re small, lumpy, and a lot harder than regular bread, but pretty delicious anyway. When you get into the deeper south, they tend to be served with cheese.” – Randall, West Virginia
“A typical holiday dessert for us is ‘Japanese fruit pie‘ — basically a pecan pie with a coconut and raisins, but it’s much sweeter, and has an almost jellied consistency. Despite its name I have never had it in a state above the Mason-Dixon line, and have yet to figure out how raisins qualify as a ‘Japanese’ fruit.” – Sam, Louisiana
And then, there are the traditions so special they are never repeated or spoken of again:
“Two years in a row I fell asleep on Christmas candy bars and melted them into my sheets then tried to eat them anyway. Does that count? Probably not since I was the only one who ate them.” – Sarah, Texas