As the holidays approach, individuals respond to the season in both positive and negative ways. Many worry about overindulging in food and drink, others are painfully reminded of past events, and still others experience increased loneliness. These emotions can result in poor decisions about food consumption and behaviors, so these dangers need to be thought through prior to the season’s activities.
However, there is another way of avoiding the pitfalls many experience during the season’s festivities. A well-planned holiday can provide the opportunity for expressing many health-giving attitudes and feelings of emotional completeness that have lasting benefits.
Decades ago, when my wife and I relocated from the Midwest to Southern California – right before the holiday season – we felt very much alone and it appeared that only long-distance phone calls to friends would bring us joy and happiness. However, after a Thanksgiving church service, a family of four invited us to share Thanksgiving dinner with them. Upon hearing there would be guests from far away, one of the young girls in the family quietly asked her mother, “Do people from the Midwest speak English?” Today, decades later, that girl is still sending us holiday greetings.
That outreach to share Thanksgiving dinner and that family’s festivities didn’t stop there – it was a model for our family over the many holiday seasons that followed. And since then our home has consistently been open to share family activities without hesitation.
I’ve found that sharing the warmth of my family’s festivities with others gives spiritual depth to the holidays. In an article written by the Mayo Clinic staff, “Stress and depression and the holidays: Tips for coping,” the Mayo staff suggested that stress and depression can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. The clinic staff offered many tips and some of the leading ones were: acknowledge your feelings, reach out, be realistic, set aside differences, stick to your budget, and plan ahead. Each of these tips includes at least two important elements – physical and spiritual.