I love December!!!
Every year, when the 1st of December rolls around, I am the first to jump for joy. You see, I have a December birthday, very close to Christmas. I grew up not having very many birthday parties (all the other kids were away for summer holidays — I grew up in Australia) and I worked very hard teaching my very large extended family that it was NOT ok to give me a joint Christmas/birthday present. Then I turned 18 (the end of my first year at university), and I discovered all the joys of having a birthday month — outdoor movies (with a pre-movie picnic) at the Camelot and at the Somerville Auditorium at UWA (we even announce our engagement there), and various gatherings every day of the month leading up to Christmas; simple delightful decadence that was soul food!
Then I joined the fitness/wellness/health industry a little over a decade ago. The first few Christmases/Decembers/Januarys became a dreaded time of year for me. Then I realised I couldn’t let this industry (that was suppose to help people feel better) destroy my joy.
Did you know, the average American (um, who is that???) puts on an average of 7 to 10lbs (3.1 to 4.5 kgs) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? (or not). For non-Americans, that’s between Thanksgiving (4th Thursday of November) and the end of the year. For most gyms, this is when they need to get a head start reaching their sales targets for the year. I honestly don’t know how I would feel/react if someone gave me a gym membership or personal training sessions as a gift (unless I specifically asked for it); I think I would much rather have cashmere socks.
I am always “on-call” through this same time period because I know the holidays brings up a lot of personal/emotional issues for many of my clients. What I am talking about here is not the same thing. I am describing the sudden onset of calorie counting, non-linear, if I eat that piece of fruit cake or drink some egg nog, my hips are going to explode and I’ll have 40-lbs to lose in the new year instead of 30-lbs, frantic panic. Of course the media isn’t helping; pieces on “surviving the holidays without gaining weight” or “makeovers for your holiday table” and “how to achieve your weight loss resolution” are ridiculous.
How is this going to facilitate you enjoying your family and friends over the holidays? How are you going to explain your bizarre actions to your children over the holidays? Yes, I see you Googling low-calorie, sugar-free, fat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free replacement recipes for all the traditional holiday dishes. Why? What happened to YOUR wonder of the holidays? The absolute delight of being on holidays, surrounded by laughter, relaxing with friends and family and eating a few additional calories?
The endorphin release from laughing with abandon provides more health benefits than any fat-free recipe!
As the mother of teenage daughters I take this serious. And yes, I have had to address any of my own personal issues over the years (that I didn’t realise I had) in order to be a mother; my children have enough social pressure without me inflicting my own baggage on them. When I am dead and gone, I want them to remember the laughter; how much I loved being in my pyjamas listening to holiday music whilst putting 2 cups of butter into my cinnamon streusel coffeecake. That on my birthday, I thought a bottle of good champagne and a jar of ossetra caviar plus all the fixings was mandatory. I never want them to look at the holidays and have memories of “oh, that has butter in it, I can’t eat that” or “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”.
The holidays, to me, is a time of reflection. It is when I get the time to say “I love you and I love having you in my life” to friends and family that I sometimes forget to do during the whirlwind of life. It is when I can take a moment and look back on the past year and see that whilst it was difficult, there was so many blessings. So many unexpected helping hands, so much joy, that in that moment of difficultly, I had not seen.
My wish for you this holiday season is for you to enjoy the moments. Be present. Laugh. Say “yes” to the glass of champagne. Say “yes” to the slice of panettone with an extra glob of custard without asking if it has butter in it (yes it has). Give thanks that you have first world problems; fill your home with laugher and joy because you have a home.
From my family to yours, happy holidays!