EDITOR'S NOTE: Cole is on vacation (from what, we're not sure), so we are regifting this Cole Classic that originally ran Dec. 26, 1999. Clip and save for the day after Christmas.
Stop! There's no need to droop your head in guilt.
Now that the ghost of Christmas gorging past is barging in with all the subtlety of a hippopotamus in an egg farm, I am here to reassure you: You already worked off all those holiday fudge and cookie calories pestering your conscience.
Think of all the waist bends and stretches you completed Christmas morning alone picking up shreds of discarded wrapping paper.
What about all that weight lifting? Remember lugging bags of gifts from stores to car trunks, then out of cars into secret closets, then changing secret closets 13 times as each hiding place was discovered, then pulling all the bags and boxes out again to wrap and sack to start that heavy lifting process all over again for various get-togethers at relatives' homes scattered across the countryside? That whole pumpkin roll you ate barely had a chance to settle comfortably into a paunch before you burned it up with heavy lifting.
Then there's the pelvic twist of snow shoveling, ladder stepping to hang lights, the rowing motions of mopping floors, sparring with other shoppers before and after Christmas sales, and the curls of carrying rolls of wrapping paper, frozen hams and kids refusing to get into bathtubs.
And you'd be surprised how many calories one can burn griping and spluttering and throwing screwdrivers across the room while trying to piece together the "some assembly required" toys.
So don't give those cinnamon rolls and peanut butter balls another thought. You've used them all up. In fact, you probably need to bake more just to keep from shriveling up. Because there always are the bonus workouts.
One Christmas morning, I waded through a sea of shredded wrapping paper in bare feet when I chanced upon the business end of an action figure accessory.
"Yeow!" I hopped, flapped my arms and bellowed, which happens to be a terrific aerobic workout. The dog joined in, zipping beneath whichever foot happened to be in the air at the moment. This twirled me into a Tasmanian devil spin.
I snatched for the Christmas tree and held steady for nearly an entire second. Then the tree and I toppled to the ground in an explosion of lights and smoke and puffs of ornament balls.
My little girl rushed into the room and parted pine boughs to find me beneath the tree. "Daddy! Wow! You found Princess Barbie's tiara! Thanks, Daddy! Bye!''
As my rescuer ran off, I groaned, "Tell your mother I took the tree down for her."
Which brings me to my point: Taking down the Christmas tree can burn oodles of calories, erasing all the holiday fudge, breads, cakes and cookie calories in one fell swoop, so to speak.
So don't let a single tinge of feasting guilt bother you. Eat the whole tray of frosted gingerbread men. You're going to need the strength to keep up with all the exercise.
---- Cole is a diet consultant certified in the state of confusion. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.