Each year, around Independence Day, a friend reminds me how quickly time goes. One minute we are watching fireworks, the next we are celebrating Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa and ushering in a new year. The older we get, the quicker this all happens! We all need to find ways to stay fit and calm as we rapidly approach Thanksgiving and the 5 weeks that follow.
This year, perhaps more than ever in the past, many of us are struggling in an economy that has found the cost of living very high, while jobs are scarce and money slips through our fingers. We are concerned about making holiday dinners and buying presents for our loved ones, while fuel and insurance prices (just to name 2) are absorbing our incomes. Every day I converse with someone who is miserable and this saddens me beyond words.
Though I am not suggesting it is easy, being realistic and creative as well as managing your time wisely, will help keep the “merry and happy” in this year’s winter holidays. Consider bartering, which is making a big comeback. Almost all of us have a service, skill, product or some time that we can swap with another who has something we want or need. Beyond bartering, we can offer up some of our time and talent as a gift such as babysitting, elder care, a massage, a haircut or preparing a meal, just to name a few. Gathering flowers from your garden or fruit from your trees and presenting them creatively makes a wonderful gift when visiting someone’s home. Though I probably didn’t cash in on many, I recall the “coupon” books my kids made me when they were young. They offered things like a free car wash or breakfast in bed. If my kids are reading this, watch out because somewhere I still have those coupons and I am pretty sure they had no expiration date. Parents, you can do some coupon books, too. Trust me your kids will love to have passes that delay their bedtime or extend their video game time or something special to YOUR child. Spouses, think of all the treats you can offer one another.
A couple of years ago I made a personal commitment to help feed the hungry. To this end, my hjoliday gift giving is multi functional. I look for opportunities to buy gifts that help raise money for hungry people and animals. Whole Foods sells a wonderful, strong tote bag and donates a portion of the proceeds to feed the hungry. Needless to say I purchased a lot of those and will be purchasing more this year. Trying to remember that people are hungry ALL year, one can never go wrong with giving grocery store gift cards. Personally, I host a houseful of young adults every Thursday night for what I fondly call “Vegan Feast Thursday” dinner. The food is a gift to my son, Derek and his friends. Their dedication to vegan-ism and saving animals is a gift to the world, as well as to their own bodies. Their energy, presence and gratitude is the gift they give to Mitch and I.
Remembering to take care of YOURSELF is paramount during this time. Perhaps you won’t be able to get to the gym as often as usual, but make sure to get your workouts in somehow. Be realistic and look at your week in advance. Schedule in at least 2 good workouts a week. Aerobic exercise will stimulate the endorphins, helping to avoid any holiday blues, but sometimes participating in a yoga class instead will allow you to stay flexible in body and mind. Statistics remind us it is easy to gain between 7 and 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. If you remember to limit your indulgences to parties and the actual holidays, you can definitely beat the statistics!
So hold on for the ride. Remain realistic and do celebrate the season. Take a moment or two each day to offer thanks for everything you DO have. Find creative ways to give gifts and always remember those less fortunate. Above all keep this simple zen quote in the forefront of your mind -“IF YOU WANT TO BE HAPPY, JUST BE”.