As you read this, (I know it is the first thing you do every Tuesday morning!) it will be December 17 -– four days till the winter solstice, five days till Hanukkah begins, eight days till Christmas, nine days till Kwanza begins, and fourteen days till all this ends. It seems so very long and it seems so short! And the amount of preparation we do, and fit into our schedules, is just amazing!
Now the other big thing that goes on in these times is we see it as a period of reflection, transition, and change, and we often work on the ideas of what changes we want to make for the new year.
And there is the food. It is always the food, isn’t it? Every one of these holidays has different customs and different sanctions around food. And every one of these holidays has foods that some of us cannot eat, should not eat, would hurt ourselves by eating, really enjoy eating, cannot stop eating, ought not to eat, or are harmed by eating.
Now I want to presume that you trust me enough to listen to and think about what I have to say here.
Who I am and who I want to become is not well served by behaving in ways that sabotage my goals.
So first, I have to ask you, of the holidays you celebrate here, which ones matter to you? Is there a spiritual component for any of these? Is there stuff you ought to plan to do of a spiritual nature? Please do not skip this part. Schedule it in. Make time to allow yourself to become and to act like the person you want to become.
Second, I want you to think about what you are doing to nourish yourself from a mental and emotional position. If you’re in college, and finals are next week, then focus on that mental part and let the rest go. Ask a family member to do for you those things (like shopping) that you won’t have time for. But if you don’t have any big commitments going on, then ask yourself what you need to do.
Are you still sending Christmas cards to people you love but have not seen for a while? Would it be too hard to write a nice note to connect with them again? Or is the connection one you will be happy to let go of?
Now the hard part: the physical. If you want to be able to follow your food plan easily and comfortably through these holidays, here are Theresa’s suggestions:
Call ahead wherever you are going – restaurants in the late afternoon, when the manager is available – and ask what food is going to be served, and when. Ask for adjustments where you need them, and plan for things to not go perfectly. Here are some examples:
Can I get that without the sauce?
How much is the normal amount of _____?
I’m allergic to (nuts, sugar, gluten, flour, whatever) Is there a substitute you can offer?
In a family members home: again, call ahead:
I may need to leave early: we have another commitment.
How do you make that dish? (OOOHHH what is in that?)
Remember I am doing that special program this year?
Could I bring a platter of ______________ (vegetables, soup, whatever works) to share?
Would you mind very much if I quickly weighed my portions in the kitchen so I don’t raise questions?
I am sorry for inconveniencing you. It is (important) necessary to me right now.
Never, never, never go to an affair hungry! Add an extra amount of food (An extra snack) with your sponsor’s help if you need to, but expect the meal to be delayed by 30 to 60 minutes.
Survey the food. Look at all the food before you choose what is best for you. “Appoint” someone you trust to help you if need be.
Ask your Higher Power for help and guidance.
Remember it will take the body about twenty minutes to accurately assess the amount of food you have eaten, so slow down and enjoy your meal.
Pay attention to the smells. Do not wear food smelling perfumes or lotions. Do not stand near the vanilla caramel candles. Balsam and Cedar, Holiday Bayberry, and Christmas Eve candles are great gifts for your hostess.
Essential oils can be rubbed on your wrists, so you won’t smell everything.
Go with an agenda. I want to see Dear Old Aunt Tilley; I want to meet cousin Charlie’s new – and third -wife. I want to set up the knitting group with Cheryl.
Have a friend text you (or set and alarm to sound like a text) so you can decide if you need to go pick her up as an “emergency exit.”
Finally, and most important, what do you need to do to enjoy the holidays yourself?
I think this is a time to learn to lead with your heart. Let’s learn to live our lives as though the most precious thing in it is our relationships. Jon Dorenbos got an Eagles Super Bowl ring because he treated everyone – “Teammates, coaches, staff, and media – like they matter, like each interaction was an end in itself, and not a means to an end. I don’t need a ring to remind me I was good at football! My ring tells me I treated people the right way.” (Jon Dorenbos in the Philadelphia Inquirer; 12/15/19)
And what about the police officer, Andy Chan, who saved dozens of lives in a train wreck, as a Highway Patrolman, then, in an accident last Jan 3, was tossed 25 feet off his motorbike, and sustained a severe brain injury? Can we be a little grateful? Can we say a prayer? Or send a good wish? (Mike Newell, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/15/19)
Can we just take this time to show a bit of love to others? Can we take a serious look at how we are living our lives and whether that is really how we want to spend our time and energy? Could we look at the kind of life we really want and aim for that? And ask for help when we need it?
And please, please enjoy this precious time of year. It, after all, is the message of the winter solstice – regeneration, renewal, and self-reflection. May you find the peace and wisdom you need.
Blessings to you,