Steps for the Season

A colleague of mine recently announced the countdown of days until Christmas, and a hush fell over the break room. Of course this silence was followed by a loud and collective groan, followed by many folks bemoaning all that must be done in the short time before the holidays. This started me thinking about the stress we inflict on ourselves when it comes to preparing for the season.

As a child there was no stress! I look back fondly on my formative years. Family traditions gave reassurance to the season. We all knew what was supposed to happen at what time!
For example, after securing the family Christmas tree in the living room, Mom took over the decorating with the kids until the final step when Dad hung the tinsel. Then the whole family drank hot chocolate and listened to carols. Really, this is the tradition I remember.

Unfortunately, trying to implement this tradition in my family has led to considerable personal stress. Often everyone watches me decorate the tree. I have one child who has left his ornaments in the storage box the last two years! Not the perfect memory I want to create.

During this busy time when stress abounds in “creating” the perfect holiday, I offer the following healthy holiday traditions.

1. Plan your holiday menu early to include healthful options. Make a list and fill your pantry so that there are no last-minute frantic trips to the local store.

2. Trim your holiday baking to the top family favorites, then see #1.

3. Shop local if possible. If needed, make a day trip with list in hand to one of our larger metropolitan areas. Planned like a strategic military intervention, you can yield great results in one day! Done!

4. Simplify family gift-giving by drawing names for gift exchanges, then solicit ideas from your recipient so that you can purchase one gift that’s special and unique.

5. Amidst parties and shopping, find time daily to exercise. If Zumba is cancelled, walk the beach with a friend. It will help you maintain your mind and your body.

6. Organize a family sporting event after or even before your big meal. Hike the Brunswick Nature Park, walk the Southport waterfront, or challenge all ages to a soccer game. Each team will need cheerleaders (great-grandma may surprise you!).

7. Play Secret Santa to someone who needs cheer!

8. Include someone who may be alone or have a working spouse to participate in your family events.

9. Admit that the “perfect” holiday only occurs in the movies and the magazines!

10. Count your blessings for friends, family and health! See you in 2014!

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