Holiday advice: 10 ways to stay healthy

November 20th, 2018

Below is my annual holiday advice column as the craziness of shopping, decorating, cooking, overeating and way too much family togetherness hit.

One: Keep in mind that most holiday foods are very, very bad for you. They are either loaded with sugar or alcohol or, more than likely, both. You don’t have to eat them. If it hurts someone’s feelings that you don’t, that is their problem, not yours. The gift of good health is fleeting and deserves reasonable diligence.

In January, your body will be relieved that you took this advice.

Two: Spend money freely on gifts and indulgences during this time to the extent that you can afford them. Merchants, the backbone of our consumer economy, depend on these seasonal purchases to make their yearly profits plus it is a marvelous way to support local artistic communities. But never spend money you cannot repay by the end of January.

In February, your bank account will pay you back for taking this advice.

Three: Be wise with your financial generosity. Research charities and make sure you know the percentage of funds received that may be going to high administrative expenses and bloated salaries. Pick the organizations that do the work close to your heart. Aim to donate 10% of your gift-giving budget to worthy causes.

Your community will be grateful you took this advice.

Four: If you get ill at the thought of going to or hosting mandatory family gatherings, reconsider your plans. Decline if your attendance means you have to face that funny uncle, protected by the family, who sexually violated you as a child or sit in a room while someone physically or verbally abuses you or denigrates your life choices. You owe no explanations for declining.

When you realize you are worth more than that, you will be thrilled you took this advice.

Five: The next few weeks bring celebrations for multiple holidays and many different faith traditions. Start the cycle of gracious generosity by using the terms, “Happy holidays” freely.

When others are generous and gracious in return, you will be pleased you took this advice.

Six: Stop the silliness of trying to “put Christ back in Christmas.” In the first place, Christmas, particularly the way we celebrate it in the U.S., has far more to do with the all-knowing Santa Claus than it does with a Holy Savior. In the second place, no one has the power to “take Christ out of Christmas” anyway: “Christmas” is a shortening of the Christ Mass worship service. In the third place, if you want to make sure that people grow in their distaste toward Christianity, shove Jesus down their throats and brook no disagreements.

Your soul will be at peace when you take this advice.

Seven: More about Santa: recognize that it is a great story and lots of fun but, for heaven’s sake, do not insist your children “believe in Santa Claus” and his magical journey around the world. It’s a lie and children don’t like being lied to. Once they figure it out, they may not believe anything you tell them.

When your children are teenagers, you will thank me for taking this advice.

Eight: The Christmas celebration in the northern hemisphere and the date of the winter solstice, i.e., the shortest day of the year, are tied together. On December 22nd, the days start to lengthen after six months of getting shorter. However, keep in mind the opposite weather and daylight factors in the Southern Hemisphere. There it is hot, the days are at the longest, and the idea of “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” is worse than ridiculous. If you really want to “put Christ back in Christmas,” separate Christmas from Frosty the Snowman and Silver Bells.

Your Southern Hemisphere neighbors will be relieved you took this advice.

Nine: More about the holiday celebrations: IF you are the person doing all the work and IF you are getting increasingly resentful about it and IF you have asked for help and not received any . . . then it is time to make some changes. Order in pizza, use disposable dishes, stock up on store-bought desserts and sit back and relax. The family will survive — and either you will make new traditions, or others will start helping.

You will be glad you took this advice for the next 10 to 20 years.

Ten: Find time to enjoy the various types of traditions that appear at this time of the year. Revel in the delights of gifts and good smells and twinkling lights. Put on some fuzzy slippers and a cozy robe and get something warm to drink and spend an evening listening to your favorite holiday music. Sing along, tunefully or tunelessly. Reach out and hold someone’s hand.

You will rejoice you took this advice for the rest of your life.

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