UNITED STATES—As a matter of courtesy and kindling goodwill in people who enjoy giving, I generally say yes to food gifts. It keeps the flow going. The urge to give is so heartfelt, nevermind that the gift is trans-fat loaded pastry with a mile-long list of toxic ingredients; it is something to cherish in people, the giving urge. I believe the thoughts we espouse about toxic foods can surpasses their actual toxicity, so I make I point of not blabbing a lot about dietary preferences.

Last week, I received a rock cookie sent from the distant land of Mexico by a person who still remembers Grady version 1.1. Foregoing bread and pastries is a keystone of my successful way of eating and living. Obviously the person who gave me the heavyweight cookie hasn’t read my book. At all events, I accepted the cookie gratefully, even as I had premeditated a speech, “Gosh, don’t you know I don’t touch these. This is galling! I’m a diet guru, and I have to hold up the standard.”

I smiled, instead, and was tickled pink that someone had remembered me.

You know, first and foremost: nothing beats a honest hunger for accepting the widest variety of food gifts with gratitude. Staying hungry is the best way to have gratitude on tap. When I know I’m going to face a meeting where goodies are likely to offered, it fortifies me to skip the snack I’d like beforehand, believing that something fabulous will be provided. (And it usually will.) When the rock pastry arrives, gladness reigns in my heart, goodwill for a giver.

Arriving with a stomach ready and starved enough to gladly receive what is offered, the gratitude brims over and flows back to the person who has the food. There’s a joyful circle of energy completed.

Part of my own code behavior toward food gifts has been inspired by the awkwardness with which others reject unwanted food. The awkwardness resides in buried resentment, excuses and self-branding, which are attitudes we’d best go on a diet for. Exhibit a) The Rationalizer: the person who says, “I’m sorry, I just ate.”

Which is pretty good, but people usually narrate where they were and what that had, which belabors it. Of course, the givers keep insisting, “Go ahead. Look at you. You’re so skinny.” It gets more awkward to repeat, “I’m sorry I just ate.” Then you’re dealing with the Mother Syndrome. However, it usually does work to say, “I’ll take one home” That’s pretty graceful and afterward, the options are to share it or throw it away. Nothing wrong with throwing it away.

Exhibit b) The justifier: The person who firmly rejects the food gift, “No, I really can’t,” and then justifying, “I am just not a sweet person.” What a horrible thing to say about oneself when taken literally. “I am not a sweet person.” There’s such a connection between heart, sweetness, love and giving, on the one hand, yet the prevalence of sweets and goodies at gatherings and events is an insult to anybody with the least desire to maintain well-being.

You can be proactive, be the change you want to see and bring grapes or pineapple pieces. Bring something to the table: you will feel the joy of giving, and in the worst case, you will bring something you will enjoy.
Finally, this week in Hollywood, I met a group of Chinese students on the sidewalk. One of them asked, “Where is Hollywood?”

They really wanted to see the Hollywood sign, so I guided them to the vista at Fountain and Cole, and then showed them Amoeba Records. We parted at Walgreens. After I had walked a half block away, one of the students came running up to me and handed me a cold bottle of Coke. I could only accept it with an outpouring gratitude. This was a symbol of international friendship. I was overjoyed to receive it and what it symbolized. It doesn’t mean I’m going to drink it.

Grady Miller is author of “Lighten Up Now,” a diet to lighten up the mind and body, available on Amazon.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)