A Christmas To Remember
Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, "The holidays", what ever you call it, this is my favorite time of the year. The garden has been in for a couple months now, the animals are getting used to the temperature change, that last bit of yard work is finally done, yes there will be more next year but for now I can call it good. Its a time to kind of slow down and relax, time to reflect on your year, oh and there's also Christmas!
The holiday season, houses decorated with lights and inflatable characters in yards, the ringing Santa at every store, sales, toys, people shopping for that perfect gift, planning family gatherings, planning meals....What are you thinking right now? Do those thoughts bring back happy memories, or are you one of the sixty plus percent of Americans that find the holidays so stressful you just wish it was over? A quick google search of "Christmas stress statistics" will give you enough reading material to last a lifetime if you really want the statistics.
I live in the RV capitol of the world, and here is a little insight for people that don't know how it works. You are running full speed for 10 months out of the year and every July and December there is a shut down, anywhere between a week and a month, depending on sales and blah blah blah. In December you know your going to be off work for at least a week for Christmas, how does that affect your holiday shopping spirit? Ideally you have put money back for shut down but in reality, who does that. So here you are thinking of all the presents you have to buy for everyone and an empty bank account to do it with, I speak from experience here. You know this is going to happen every year so whats the solution? A couple of ideas come to my mind, first of all, why are we expected to spend so much money on presents? Is it possible that we have been programmed our entire lives by the television that sits in the living room? I'm not going to go full on conspiracy but it is a fact that we are all victims of marketing this time of year. The sales, the tv ads, flyers in the news papers, its all about getting you to spend money. The wise men giving baby Jesus presents has been turned into "the spirit of giving", that is probably one of the best marketing schemes the world has ever seen. I'm in no way telling you to turn into a scrooge, but this is another life example where moderation is the key. Set a limit and stick to it. This Christmas when your family is all together, talk about how you read this great blog post about spending too much money on presents and come up with a plan to correct it so you can spend more time enjoying your holiday together and less time wondering how your going to get the money to pay for it all. Another thought, after you set your limit start a Christmas Club. Ask your banker today if they have one, tell them how much you want to have to spend next year and get it started as soon as you can. If putting away twenty dollars a week now until Christmas next year gives you the money you need for next year I think its a pretty good plan.
Another common theme at Christmas or any holiday really is when to get together. When you first start out and the kids are young its easy, you wake up early on Christmas day, open presents and you either go eat at parents house or they come to yours in the afternoon and life is good. As you get older and kids have kids of their own and move away and multiple family dinners start happening, planning a day to get everyone together gets a lot more difficult and the set up for a stressful holiday dinner is soon to follow. There really isn't a good solution to this, or if there is I haven't found it and am open to suggestions. There is always going to be one family member that can't make it and that's just the way it is. So plan your party and set a day that works for the majority and have fun. Have another dinner for the person that can't make it that day, is there really a limit on how many times you can have family over to eat? I think the focus of the holidays should be on spending time with the family so if you have to have two weeks worth of family members over one at a time do it, have fun, play games, tell stories and have a great time. Ideally we could all be together at once in the same place but if you can't it isn't the end of the world, do the best with what you have to work with.
One final topic for you to think about, and of course with my back ground we all know I can't write a holiday blog without discussing food. "No, I can't have that because of my eating style" "That looks so good, but I"m on a diet", "I decided I'm going to enjoy the holidays and diet after the new year". Any of these sound familiar? I'm going to share some diet information, this is coming from a guy who does a keto diet a few times a year with a total of zero carbs a day for two weeks at a time, I have gone vegan for months to correct blood work numbers, what I'm saying is, I take diets to the extreme to really see how well they work for me. With all that in mind here's what I'm going to tell you about food around the holidays and really food in general. You are responsible for what you put into your body, all the information you need is out there easy to access. What it really comes down to is your goals and what effect the food you decide to eat is going to have on you. My plan is to sit down with my family and eat. I try to limit grains and anything processed so I will be mindful of that while I'm eating. I know the effects of food on my body. Is eating a piece of pumpkin pie worth the feeling I get the day after eating it? Would I get the same pleasure eating a small piece of pumpkin pie and leave out the whipped cream? These are the things that you have to think about for yourself.
One of my favorite things about the holidays is people in general are more friendly, its like an excuse to do good things. Putting your change in the red bucket at the store, donating some toys to a local cause or just smiling at some random stranger and saying "Hi". This year for Christmas, lets not worry about money or presents or food. Think about some changes you want to make now, that will make next year better. Make a list, put it somewhere you can see it as a reminder. Now, take a breath and forget about it all. Go to the family gatherings you can make it to, don't worry about presents. They invited you, not your bag of toys. Eat the foods that bring back memories, my mom made cookies for the holidays but because my step dad smoked they had a hint of marlboro. This year I ate a cookie and made the comment that it was missing something and everyone knew exactly what I was talking about. The new cookies are probably just a bit better for us without the tar but they will never be the same. Is that sugar cookie good for me, nope. Am I going to eat one, yep every time and think of mom because that is what really matters friends. Go out there and make memories, and make this The Best Christmas Ever. Until next week, have a happy, hippie life.