In this most frigid of holiday seasons, when indeed the environs do resemble the frozen tundra of lore, we approach the central feast of the period wrapped in the warmth of friends, family, hearth and...chocolate.
There is food galore, topped off with the pièce de résistance - chocolate. It is a season of self-indulgence, the most intemperate of which, I dare say - even more so than booze - is the massive ingestion of chocolate. And it shows. They say there are beneficial aspects to eating chocolate: Lots of antioxidants. Good for the heart? Perhaps. It sure can help you gain weight.
When it comes to chocolate, we've been fortunate in these parts. It has become a minor art form locally, with a number of chocolatiers vying for approval of their cacao-based creations. One of the most successful of these is the serendipitously named Gail Ambrosius, profiled in this issue by staff writer Kent Williams. Smitten by the dark matter early in life, "Consumed with Passion," as the headline goes, she has made it the center of a burgeoning east-side enterprise. This year you will demolish the truffles with new understanding.
Beyond the sensual pleasures, there is a spiritual warmth to the season. You can, if you choose, share your good fortune and good circumstances with others, as the great songwriter Curtis Mayfield put it, "not of kin." There were plenty of suggestions in this area in our earlier holiday supplement, "Giving." If you've not kept the print version on hand, you can access the list at TheDailyPage.com under the "Mad Tools" tab. Look for the tile that says "Wish List 2007."
You can also come up with your own free-form sharing. My wife annually fetes a hundred or so of her women friends near Christmas at a champagne and shrimp party in our home, with an emphasis on networking. The guests come with donations of food items or toys or money, which pile up in my den and which are then transported to the Goodman Atwood Community Center for distribution. (Hauling the goodies over is how I participate in the deed.) The party is nice, but the giving amplifies the spirit of the season. And as an added benefit, it assuages the little bit of guilt that comes along with that extra piece of chocolate.