In the Holiday Spirit

The holiday season is upon us! Thanksgiving has past, Chanukah is well underway, and the consumer industry has been selling Christmas decorations since October. Revel in the American Dream that is (was) Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

A friend of mine posted a few really funny cartoons that compare Thanksgiving traditions over the years – namely, how something when you were a kid is radically different when you are experiencing it as an adult. It’s really funny how much of it can be true – from the perspectives on overeating to the interactions with cheek-pinching relatives and on and on and on. So many of those things seem to apply to my life and will probably apply to my Thanksgivings in the future.


“You are my Everest!” – Joey, to the turkey

What left me inordinately uncomfortable after I read those cartoons was that there was a shred of truth behind a lot of them.  Sure, it was funny when you realize that the perspectives about eating change as you age, from food being purely enjoyed to becoming a guilt trip that is completely unavoidable in modern social circles. It’s as though we are content to wallow in our own self-disgust every single year.

I have spent too many years in the past feeling guilt and shame over Thanksgiving and regretting my decisions at the end of winter. A lot of years falling into the Black Friday guilt workout and feeling the stuffing sweats pouring down my face and accumulating in deposits  on the treadmill. And a lot of years repeating the golden phrase “Guess I’m not eating for a week!”

cartoon women on treadmills

This is not a declaration of war against healthy eating habits and fitness maintainence — I commend those people who (probably) keep better snacks in their fridge than I do and don’t succumb to hot chocolate every night rather than trudge through the cold to the gym to work out. You are on the right track, believe you me, a track that most of us should consider. This is a declaration of war against what we have made the holiday season — a guilting like no other, focused entirely upon what we do, what we eat, and what we look like when the day is done. Too often has that been my MO, and I’m a little tired of it. I think that what might take the pressure off of those of us who feel anxiety about the holidays and how your body might emerge from them is refocusing your attention in a positive way. Here are my tips:

  1. Establish the liberties you might be taking with yourself during the holidays. If you have the self-control, you can ignore this. I for one have found that self-surveillance can be at its most difficult during this time of year. Rather than labor over every “bad” decision you make, decide ahead of time how free you will be with your food choices.
  2. Turn your attention toward the people who matter most in your life. Don’t avoid your problems, but use this as a chance to help others. Sometimes this puts our own problems into perspective.
  3. Take time to think about things for which you are most thankful. It could be your mom, it could be your room, it could be yours eyes, it could be your eyebrows. Five things. Every day.



3 thoughts on “In the Holiday Spirit

  1. Laura says:

    I love this :). I had a lot of family over this year for Thanksgiving with heath-related dietary restrictions (diabetes, gluten-intolerance, and an assortment of allergies) in addition to a handful of people who have been in super-diet mode for a while. Everyone seemed to be so focused on what they couldn’t eat that it hindered the family bonding and thankfulness that should have been happening.

  2. Irene says:

    I agree, this is a wonderfully upbeat and forgiving way to approach these holidays and the eating that accompanies it. Yes, we might overeat on a given day, but giving yourself ‘permission’ takes away the guilt because you have created a decision, not a consequence. Focus on the love of your family this holiday season; your food guilt and gift frenzy will soon be forgotten, but the love you share is eternal.

  3. Dave says:

    Love the tips! The holidays (any holidays, really) are about so much more than food. We have all those other “non-holiday” days to behave ourselves; as long as we don’t lose sight of that, we should focus less on that extra piece of pie and more on those extra laughs, extra hugs, extra-special memories…

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