Staying Sane Over the Holidays

HO HO HO and here we go!  As Linus would say ‘good grief, Charlie Brown’.  It’s December and everyone seems to get sucked into the holiday madness regardless of their religious beliefs.  So, some good advice is to calm down, take a breath and remember:  the holidays as we know them are market-manufactured and economically driven.  This year, try to remember what it is you are REALLY celebrating:  the festival of lights, the birth of your God, or celebration of family, community and culture.  If neither of the upcoming holidays resonates with you, just celebrate and be grateful for all the goodness in your life – a roof over your head, good friends, a meal on your dinner plate each evening.  I love to see my friends during this wintery time of the year and I’ll share with you a favorite cocktail of mine (non alcoholic version for my underaged and non-drinking friends and the designated drivers listed).  It’s not expensive and if you ask each guest to come with a plate of finger food, this can be the setting for a great get together!  Open up the Monopoly board, play a game or just tell fun stories of travel and adventure.  It’s a stress-free evening that everyone can enjoy no matter what their religious beliefs or cultural obligations are.

Hot Winter Cocktail to Warm the Bones  This is a favorite I’ll cook up when I have friends over during the long winter months.

1 bottle good cabernet sauvignon or merlot (or any bold red wine)

1 8oz glass whiskey

1 sachet bag containing the following:  1 teaspoon whole cloves, 2 cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg deshelled)

(for a non-alcoholic version, substitue wine and whiskey for a good apple cider)

Heat up all ingredients in a non-reactive pot (I love my le creuset for this!) until very hot but not boiling.  Allow to simmer for an hour or so.  Keep hot and covered on the stove.  Ladle into a festive glass and serve with your favorite nibbles for holiday cheer and enjoy!  Warms the blood, good for the circulation and tastes/smells fantastic! (remember to drink responsibly and if you have a medical condition that prohibits alcohol consumption, please drink the cider)

A Word of Wisdom to Manage the Holiday Blues  For many of us, the holiday season doesn’t look like the Norman Rockwell illustrations.   Societal factors  (divorce, families separated geographically, death – and let’s not forget that everyone has at least one ‘crazy’ in the family) can contribute to stress and in many cases, many of us are alone during this time of year.  Suicides increase as well as drug overdoses during the month of December.  (Fact:  Did you know that the two primary reasons why longevity in the United States has decreased on a continuous basis over the past 10 years is due to suicide and opiod overdoses?  It’s a sad state of affairs when a first world country’s population age is decreasing due to self-inflicted harm.)  If you are alone this season and feeling more blue than usual, take a positive action – pick up the phone and call someone close to you.  If your family is estranged (or no one is nearby or alive), then call a friend.  Tell them how you’re feeling alone and ask if you could join them for the holiday.  If that isn’t an option, then go to a local church, synagogue, food pantry or charity and offer up some time.  Sharing with others who have less can be very gratifying.  If all else fails, and you reside in NYC, dial 311 and ask to speak with someone. 

Remember, the holidays are market driven.  

Commercials on television and other media are produced specifically to reach an area of the brain that says ‘you NEED this product or service.  In reality, cars need to be sold, appliances need to be replaced, etc…..it’s all about economics and very little about the spirit of giving and sharing at the end of the day.  Turn the television off and forget the ads – it’s all make believe and everyone is an actor being paid to look happy. Even better (and if you can afford it), take a trip to a non-judeo christian country and have an adventure…I did this a few years back and it was absolutely fantastic.  Whatever you decide to do this upcoming month, go with joy, gratitude and gusto.  Be happy for the small things in life and be kind to yourself.

Happy Holidays to one and all!

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