Are you ready for Ugly Christmas Sweater Day on December 15? In the unlikely event you don't have a garish, gory, gasp-worthy Christmas sweater in your closet, you'd better get cracking!
The holiday was born out of an underground resistance to decades and decades of unbearably garish gifts. Instead of tossing the unmentionable treasures in a drawer where they would (hopefully) spontaneously disintegrate and never be seen again, these folks saw an opportunity to rebel. So they started wearing the ghastly garb.
If you decide to join in the fun, be reminded that you must: "rock your sweater all day and all night, from the time you wake up till the time you sleep. No breaks. No copouts. No excuses. The sweater must stay on."
I don't make the rules. That's from the official Ugly Christmas Sweater web site. Which means if you get kicked out of your sister's wedding, I'm not to blame.
I've always loved a good holiday theme. A few (or was it ten?) years ago, I came up with the idea of stuffing the kids' holiday stockings with socks.
It's the silliest sort of humor, I know. But it works every year. And the kids always need new socks!
They come in so many shapes, sizes, and styles that you can always find an absolutely perfect pair of socks for everyone on your list.
There are warm socks for working or playing outdoors. Super fashionable boot socks. Socks for cat lovers. Dog lovers. Sports fans. Socks for patriots and crossword puzzlers and bowlers. Toe socks. Socks that remind you of summer. Even socks that remind you to floss!
And if your family doesn't find your silly sock humor all that funny? Well, at least their toes will be warm!
Some people love going to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving for "Black Friday." I understand why. The festive music and atmosphere, the deep-discounts on big ticket items, and big sales on everything else. But the traffic, the parking hassles, the crowds, and the push-and-shove?
Well...let's just say it's not for everyone. Including me.
The only thing I'll miss is the exercise you get on a marathon shopping outing. But that's easily remedied. I'll just work off all those Thanksgiving calories at home - decorating the house for Christmas.
Think about all the things you do to decorate:
Climbing up and down stairs to fetch boxes of ornaments, garlands, and singing Santas.
Putting up the Christmas tree and holding it in place until it's level in the stand.
Stringing lights and garland all around the tree.
Putting on all the ornaments.
Reaching that last few inches to get the tree topper settled in place.
Climbing, bending, reaching, and stretching are all awesome ways to work every one of your muscles. And when you're working your muscles, you're burning calories. Which means when it comes time to make Santa's cookies, you can have a taste for yourself - without the guilt!
Your "Working It Off on Black Friday" Gift Guru,
67 years ago today, the 14th Dalai Lama became Tibet’s official head of state. He was 15 years old. Now he's one of the world's great leaders, winning the Nobel Peace Prize, among other humanitarian awards. At the "young old age" of 82, he travels the world talking about compassion, gratitude, harmony, and inner peace.
Not only that, he has a great laugh. It's an infectious giggle full of joy, compassion, and yes, serenity. Watch and just try not to crack a smile (or a full belly laugh!):
As the Dalai Lama himself has said: you don't have to be a Buddhist to embrace the idea of inner peace and you don't have to be a Christian to embrace the giving, compassionate spirit of the Christmas season. I couldn't agree more.
So if the holiday crush starts to, well, crush you, maybe it's time to light some incense, turn down the bright lights, and meditate (or just replay the video). It's my sure-fire Rx for a serene season.
With Halloween behind us, it's time to start thinking about the next holiday - Thanksgiving! It's my favorite because it's all about food and family. And showing gratitude for those we love and all we have.
"Turkey Day" is an American holiday to us, but it's really one of many harvest festivals around the world. West Africa, Barbados, and China celebrate the end of the work season, bringing families and communities together for a few days of feasting, dancing and - most importantly - being thankful.
A lot of cultures even give thanks for the enormous amount of work it takes to create a great feast. I've taken up this custom myself.
So what if the store is crowded? Or if it's dark and cold outside? Or if the traffic is getting on my very last nerve? If I remember why I'm doing it - to celebrate the abundance I share with my friends and family - it suddenly doesn't feel like work anymore.
So, on this "turkey day", let's all just pause in the midst of our holiday duties. Let's take a moment to reflect on the reason for the harvest festival season. You'd be surprised at how being grateful - even for a short moment - really lightens the load.
I don't know how much time I spend watching cat videos. I'm pretty sure I don't want to. Pretty sure I don't want my boss to know, either. (Of course, I suppose I could call it research for the blog.)
So...I just found a new tool for my 'research'.
It's a 24-hour online TV channel dedicated to cats and only cats. Here's the description from the website:
All cats, all the time.
We've got kittens too.
Meow-mazing indeed! And it's purrrr-fectly priced at: FREE! That's right. Now we can watch cat videos all day and all night and it won't cost a nickel. I feel like Christmas came early this year!
There are cartoon cats. Just plain cute cats. Documentaries about cats. There are even regular shows like "Scaredy Cats", "Famous Felines" (like Grumpy Cat), "Cats Gone Viral" and (of course) "Putting Up with Humans".
The streaming cats are brought to you by PlutoTV, a network that obviously understands what the viewing public craves: more cats!
My friends, I have seen the future of television and it is cat-tivating!
The house is full of Halloween candy right now. And what we give away to trick-or-treaters will be replaced by our own kids' Halloween hauls. That's why I think of Halloween - not Thanksgiving - as the beginning of the Holiday Weight Gain season.
Did you know that most people don't pack on lots of extra pounds during the holiday season? Studies have shown that Americans gain about one pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Just one pound.
But here's the problem: we never take off that pound. As in, not ever.
Gaining a pound-a-year doesn't seem like a lot. But "suddenly" we find ourselves ten pounds heavier. A lot of people try crash dieting in hopes of losing the ten pounds that took ten years to gain within just a few weeks. Studies have proven and (speaking from experience) I can tell you that crash diets don't work. Not in the long run.
That's why our weight creeps up and up and up as we get older. So what are we supposed to do with the holidays right around the corner? Try not to put on that holiday pound in the first place! A few tips to help out:
Avoid the drive-thru: Fast food is packed with bad fats and empty calories, but it's hard to eat right when you're busy-busy-busy with the holidays. So stock your purse or car with healthy snacks (dried fruit works great for me). If it comes down to fast food or a bad case of the Hangries (hungry + angry), grab a kids' meal instead of the SuperSize. It will hold off the Hangries until you can find something healthy to eat.
It really IS all about carbs: Carbohydrates spike blood sugar levels, which releases insulin into the bloodstream. All that extra sugar converts into body fat. Stick to (a little) meat and (a lot of) vegetables if you can.
BYO. Make sure there's a healthy low carb dish in the mix by bringing your own to holiday parties. The same goes for drinks. Bring a bottle (or two) of red wine to share. It has fewer calories and a lower glycemic profile than holiday fruit punch or egg nog.
Finally, don't worry so much that it takes all of the fun out of the holidays. We can still eat well and have a few treats. As long as we remember one thing: it's easier to keep off the dreaded "holiday pound" than it is to lose it later.