The first full week of any new year is the waning days of the confusion that comes with the post-holiday haze. You’re dazed, unsure of what the time is, and possibly wondering when your guests are going to leave. Traditionally, we think of this time being the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Oh, no. It goes on for one more week before things get “back to normal.”
I had company over the holidays who stayed for a week and a half, family members. They came in post-Christmas, which meant that as I was preparing for Christmas dinner, I was also preparing for house guests. I won’t horrify you with the amounts on the receipts from the grocery store. This is where growing up playing Tetris on the Game Boy comes in handy. You have the skill you need to move, squish, rotate, and place a large number of foodstuffs in the fridge.
With my guests arriving the day after Christmas I had fears that space in the fridge would be limited at best, but the upside to their late arrival meant that the fridge wasn’t too packed on Christmas Day. The leftovers from the dinner were mostly gone by the time everyone arrived, or they finished them up as my family are fiends for ham and dressing. The real problem was on the 27th when off I went to the grocery to stock up again on things to feed these folks.
This is when the fridge moved from a game of Tetris to a game of Thin Ice. The fun toy where you slowly drop wet marbles onto a stretched piece of tissue in hopes of not being the one to “break the ice” by causing the issue to rip open. Every time I opened the fridge with a container of leftovers in my hands, I wondered if it would be the day that trying to place it would cause everything to just explode outwards at me.
Because none of my guests will keep track of their leftovers, the flip side of this game is once they’ve all left you have to clean out the fridge. As you do, you think, “As long as I’ve got the big lawn and garden trash bags here, I might as well clean this whole thing out. New year, new fridge!” This always gives me a sense of hesitation as I think “What horrors lie in the deep, dark, recesses of this fridge?”
The first thing to go was all the takeout containers that had accumulated over the week and a half my guests were with me. Then I moved on to the last vestiges of the Christmas meal leftovers. Then came the things which somehow had been in the fridge since man first walked. I’m not talking about the dented and well-worn Tupperware full of God only knows what. I’m talking about half-full jars of mayo and fancy mustards that had expired back in 2015.
They wind up there due to the best of intentions. “Oh, the chipotle mayo is post-dated, I need to clean it out so I can recycle the jar.” But because you notice this when you’re reaching in for creamer for your coffee in the morning, and because it’s mayonnaise, you leave it in the fridge. It stays on the door on the shelf, as a constant reminder, “Rinse me and recycle me please!” But you’re too busy with your active lifestyle to get around to it.
Now, it’s beyond “clean me out and recycle me” and moved to “I may unleash the blob on society if I dare open this jar.” Now we toss it into the trash and think no more of it. Lots of random sauces are always lurking in the back corners. I bought these for a Hawaiian-themed barbecue but then never used them again. They also get tossed. But the most impressive feat is a jar of all-natural Maple Syrup from 2009 that somehow is still in there. It says all I have to do is boil it, skim the top, and it’ll be good as new!
One day I will do this, but today is not that day. Since the bottle says it’s fine to eat once you do that, it goes back into the deep dark corner. I look forward to celebrating my 20th anniversary with this jar in the upcoming years. For now, the real estate in the fridge has become more spacious and it looks, dare I say, clean in there. Here’s hoping your fridge remains clean and plentiful in the new year. See you next week