Category Archives: Living A Healthy Lifestyle-Published Articles

I write articles for PINK Magazine. This section contains reprints of Healthy Living articles. My articles share tips for living a healthy lifestyle and diet information. I include healthy recipes and weight loss information.

Skating Uphill-May Edition “Be Good To Yourself!”

 

May is now officially declared “Be Good To Yourself Month!”

Yes, I love to change the designation of months. I think some of them are silly anyway. I mean who really knows or cares if it is Dairy Month if they don’t live in Wisconsin? Also, I get that April Showers Bring May Flowers and all of that, but I honestly think we can do better.  So now, we are going to have a special month absolutely dedicated to ourselves. That may or may not sound a bit selfish to you. I am thinking not. Think about how little you actually do just for you-not because you need to or not because you have to or not because someone else wants you too or any other reasons why we give to others first. Just for this month, try some fun experiment’s for you and you alone-OK?

The first one will be the hardest-it was for me anyway. I have regained five pounds from my goal weight success story of last month. I know a couple of others in the same boat and I don’ necessarily mean YOU. So, let’s just simply forgive ourselves and move on. Gasp! Idi I just say that? What I really meant was NOT to give up and go back to being a slacker, even though that has a lot of appeal for me. What I meant was to kind of let it go. I stopped and looked at why this weight situation was happening to me and it was because I had gone off of several of the things that were working for me.

I usually have the same healthy breakfast and I somehow lost that habit between Easter Brunch and chocolate eggs. I lost my way in a forest of PEEPS. So now back to 80 calorie yogurt with two teaspoons of mixed nuts and a cup of mixed fresh fruit. I really like that and it is quite filling. I am back to basics with no sacrifice and no regrets. Do little fixes and check out results. Nothing dramatic, all right?

Buy a good book. I love murder mysteries wet in cool places. I just finished a series of books set in the time of Richard the Third and have now started reading a series of murders set in the 1920’s about a down and out aristocrat who goes to London to try to find a job with only a finishing school diploma for a reference and she gets caught up in murders in the best of families at lovely manor houses and, of course, she solves the mystery and keeps the family names from the dreaded scandal that was so much the kiss of death in those days. Good fun and I really love things set in totally different times. It adds to the fun of a good read. Try it.

I love a massage or a spa day, but that can get expensive. Instead, I treat myself to a new personal item-make-up, face moisturizer, perfume, a really good smelling shampoo, a bottle of nail polish in a flashy shade, lunch out, or my personal favorite: flowers. I have very low standards when it comes to flowers because it is hard to find flowers that I do not love. Grocery store flowers are just fine with me. I have some pretty vases and I love to play with arrangements. Plants are fun too and designers will tell you for lots of $$$ that plants soften an environment beautifully.

Finally, for absolutely no money at all, take the afternoon off and watch a movie. Take a warm bath, wash your hair, rub lotion on your feet and put on socks, smear cream all over your lovely self, and just fade out for a couple of hours. Book it. Make an appointment with YOU. I did this a couple of days ago and binge watched an old TV series on Netflix and actually nodded off. I have not had an afternoon nap in I can’t remember how long. I woke up feeling smooth and lovely next to my flowers and yogurt mixed with a bit of honey and gave myself a no guilt pedicure. How sinful-NOT!

Remember, May is now Be Kind To Yourself Month and I honestly think you know what I mean. I bet you could pick three things you would love to do for yourself right this minute, couldn’t you?  Love, Judith

 

PS-As you know, I read a lot and some of the new things food wise on the pipeline have to do with oil. We knot that olive oil and other natural oils can be ultra-healthy, but have you tried a tuna salad with your own recipe but with olive oil instead of mayo? Also, pasta salad with olive oil instead of mayo is way healthy. Finally, I have recently come across several recipes using avocado oil. I am a huge avocado fan being originally from California so I was happy to find spray avocado oil at my grocery store. For more food tips check out www.skatinguphill.com.  See you next month

Skating UPHILL-June Article (2019)

 

 

                                           Keep It Fresh!!

No! Don’t you dare let the beauty and fresh start inspiration of Spring turn in to the “Dog Days” of Summer, Y’All!       The Uphill Skater

Keeping it fresh is a huge challenge. I don’t just mean those of us who like to lay out in the sun and drink wine or have chips and a soda for lunch either. I mean ME! I have been writing this column for quite a while and I always try to bring something new to the table. No pun intended ladies, because I don’t mean just food either. In fact I subscribe to five different magazines just to keep current and to try to keep you current as well. Getting in a rut is all too simple because the “rut” things we do are feel good stuff. Of course, right, right? Otherwise why would we keep doing them?

This month I have several anti-RUT suggestions that are cheap and easy-by the way, those are my favorite two adjectives for things in life. Oh, is that a rut-I think yes. Sigh. That is my first suggestion, by the way-stick to get out of the rut things that suit your lifestyle. Don’t go too far out of the box, or you will never stay there. Cheap and easy suggestion number one is to do more of what you are doing, but change it up a bit. I volunteer at t thrift shop and I have been doing the ladies clothing department. I recently asked to do books for a while and be trained on the cash register. Who knew-I like this way better and plan to stick to it. Cost- 0000! Satisfaction and new fun-$$$$$!

Also cheap and easy is to try a new food. I am into healthy stuff for the most part and I have done roasted veggies for a long time. Recently I added turnips and Brussel sprouts to the sheet pan and it is a huge improvement. There are tons of new kinds of tea to try and I got a big box from my daughter from Mother’s Day and it has been fun. She also included honey stix which are just great. Kale and broccolini are pretty new to me if perhaps not to you but I love both of them. Finally, remember now that the summer season is here to keep it fresh at your local Farmer’s Market.

Where I live there are many excellent Farmer’s Markets and I have been going for quite a few years, but this year my something new out of the rut has been pick your own. Just now it is pick your own strawberries, but I also this year I have picked my own daffodils and that has been fun. I am soon going to take my grandson out to pick our own blueberries and then we will pick grapes and apples. We have also been on jaunts to a local farm to see baby goats and calves. How lovely this has been.

Let’s now spend a little money. I know I said cheap and easy, so if you have not done so already, why not try a thrift shop. Even if you do not think this is up your alley, just try it once for me. I recently scored a Talbots brand new blouse for $1.50 and I put it in the wash and it came out looking like brand new. I buy most of my grandson’s T-shirts for .50 because they either get super dirty or ripped or simply outgrown so quickly it does not pay to spend more. I also buy books, many books, for just a dollar. Used children’s books are a feature at all thrift stores and many will exchange your old one for one you have not read to whoever you read to and then you can keep up the process. Thrift store shopping can be a hoot. You literally never know what you will find.

Finally, let’s look at either busting out a new hobby or helping your old hobby group try a new whatever. I love to play bridge, but my husband and I have moved up from party bridge to a type of duplicate bridge that is more complicated and difficult. Not only have we enjoyed this, but we have made some very interesting new friends. Our neighbors recently invited us over to play canasta and we said yes. Drawback: I don’t play canasta. I quickly learned on line. OK, it is not that hard, but I did actually learn something new and It is quite a lot of fun. So, my tip is to branch out. Bring a new person to book club. Read a type of book you have never read before. Serve a completely different type of snack or wine. See-cheap and easy.

One more thing: if you have never gone to a blog, try going to www.skatinguphill.com. It has new recipes, sayings, shared thoughts, and lots of other stuff. When you try it, leave something of your own like a comment, recipe, profound thought, and so on. You get the idea. Do it for something completely different.

Yes, same old, same old, I will see you next month. Don’t stop reading Skating Uphill. We are not going to get THAT radical!  Love, Judith

Five Ways To Save Big $$$ At The Grocery Store!

I love to grocery shop and often do it just for a field trip to look for information for an article. I am a pescatarian and my husband eats anything and everything so I shop widely at several different stores and Farmer’s Markets. Here are a few really good tips to shop well and economically.

 

  1. Always check out the newspapers for grocery store ads and shop those specials but only as they fit in to your meal plans. Do not buy something just because it is on sale or go into a store to buy a special and come out with a ton of other overpriced stuff!
  2. Go to the back of the store and check out the clearances. If items are not too near the due date and they fit in to your food plans for the week, load up. Also check out “day olds” in the bakery.
  3. Don’t buy already chopped up things unless you really need to time wise . things that are cut up go off much more quickly than whole products. Particularly things like chopped salads go off very quickly compared to head lettuce and whole packages of carrots and celery. Bagged broccoli and celery and cauliflower are also much more costly than buying unwrapped . Don’t buy too much fresh in bulk. You always think you will eat it all, but seldom do.
  4. Buy store brands and stock up when they go on sale. Buy things that last a while or that you can freeze when they are a store brand special and you will really save big. Personally I recommend the Walmart “Great Value” brand. Just compare some time when you are out shopping. Store brands are generally placed near name brands and sometimes the price difference is quite shocking.
  5. Shop in bulk whenever you can. Check out what you use a lot, a particular cereal brain or type for example, and buy a bunch when it is on sale. Watch due dates, but in general this is a good $$$ saver. I buy pasta this way and canned goods too!

I know a coupon shopper who saves tons and loves to do it almost as a hobby. I don’t seem to be able to make that work, but obviously millions do. Try it?

Groceries expenses can be kept in line with very little trouble if you follow these tips. If you have others, please share n the comment page.

Pescatarian Life!

Yes, Pescatarian Life is easier than veggie or vegan. The addition is fish and shellfish. Just look at some of the fabulous stuff WE can eat!!

                                                          FRUITS

Apples, bananas, blue berries, cantaloupe, all varieties of oranges, pears, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, all melons, peaches, grapefruit, persimmons, kiwi, lemons, raisins, pineapple, and many others I have forgotten!

                                                          Vegetables

Artichoke, broccoli, Kale, eggplant, mushrooms, onions, cauliflower, carrots, celery, spinach, avocados, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes ,lima beans, cucumber, zucchini, mushrooms, and many others have forgotten

                                                               Dairy

Milk-all types: soy, almond, Fairlife, Lactose free, etc., Cheeses and the variety is delicious and virtually endless, any and all types of ice creams and sorbets, cottage cheese with any and all of the additives (I like pineapple), my mainstay, yogurt and I use any and all types including soy yogurt, cream cheese, particularly on a bagel, and many others I have forgotten!

                                                              Fish and Shellfish

I could go on and on here, but I will mention my favorites: salmon prepared any and all ways including salad, patties, croquettes, and so on. Same for tuna. All fish is good. All shellfish is good too, but calamari is the highest in cholesterol remember.

So, in conclusion, remember with so much stuff out there to eat, who wants a candy bar??  Another mainstay for me is oatmeal by the way. I also eat quite a lot of Frosted Min-iWheats. If you read the label, it has most of your daily requirements when you add a half of a banana, a few blueberries, and some Fairlife milk. PS-Don’t forget to add a bit of protein powder to your smoothie!!

                                                           Eat Well-Eat Healthy!

 

Skating Uphill

By

Judith Lawrenson

March Issue

“Combining a healthy lifestyle feature with a discussion of women who give back? Piece of cake, my friends!”   The Uphill Skater

 

I go to the dentist. You go to the dentist. Yes, like it or not, we all go to the dentist. Since we all must do it, let’s discuss the benefits of good oral hygiene as it relates to being in a totally healthy good zone. We have talked here in this column about everything from sex to heartburn, to ingrown toenails, so now it is the time, dear ladies, to talk about teeth. I know it is boring-no pun intended- but as I researched the topic for this article, I found out tons of things I did not know.

We all get that you should brush twice a day, right? But, did you know that it is not necessarily a good thing to overbrush? I did not even know what “overbrush” meant until my son was told had had receding gums and had to have tissue grafts to correct the situation. It was expensive, painful and took weeks to heal. So, twice a day with a soft brush, floss, and rinse with a mouth wash.

Flossing is old hat. Everybody’s dentist tells them to flow and I for one almost never do it. I save myself with two relatively new procedures. I have a waterpik. It has a little round soft brush on the end, and I use that instead of the pointed squirty thing. The other thing is a mouth rinse and my dentist tells me that this has proven more and more to be of great value in a program of good oral hygiene. I rinse regularly. It is easy and I like easy. Sorry if this is too personal, ladies, but that’s the facts of the matter.  My dentist recommended Listerine in any flavor. This is not a commercial. As you know Skating Uphill does not do commercials, but I will just say that is what was recommended.

Brushing and rinsing are both good for lots of things as we know. One of the important offshoots of poor dental hygiene is bad breath. Ick, not that! Yes, haven’t you ever sat next to someone or worse yet, been stuck with someone with that awful breath? Well, often bad breath can be a sign of something worse than not brushing your teeth. Decay, gum infection, and even prediabetes can be causes of bad breath. Did you know that poor dental care can even cause poor lung function? Wow!

What else can we do to complete a healthy picture. Well, I hate to go on and on, but pretty much all dentists will tell you two things: quit smoking and cut back seriously on sugared drinks. We do not need another lecture on smoking, obviously, but sugared drinks are a real culprit too. The sweet liquid not only adds empty calories to your diet, but sloshes around your whole mouth and throat and remains on your teeth for hours after consumed unless you brush immediately. No Bueno!!

All those things having been said, and on a bit of a different subject, did you know that there are more women dentists than men. My dental practice is a mother and daughter office. I know what you are thinking, one is a dentist and the other is the hygienist. Wrong. Both are dentists and do implants, retainers, and some oral surgery as well. I love these ladies. The mom is a raw-feed vegan and the daughter is a Southern cook with a capital “S.” I am a vegetarian who eats fish, so we go round and round. The mom was a pioneer in many areas of dental practice and partners with several other offices for a variety of services. She is about seventy and still going really strong, I might add.

Being a woman dentist may not seem earth shattering or world changing to some, but these two women are out to make the world a better place. Both have volunteered in foreign mission, do gratis work for indigent patients, and mentor other young women. We each do what we can for the sisterhood I hope, and try to not only do good for others, but to support each other as achievers, movers, and shakers.  Love, Judith

 

SIDEBAR-Visit www.skatinguphill.com  blog for new recipes, daily thoughts, and décor ideas. Also find reprints of PINK articles shared comments. Blogging is fun and easy. Look at this blog and maybe you will want to try it yourself!

 

 

 

 

PINK Article (February 2019)

Skating Uphill

By

Judith Lawrenson

February 2019

“February is cold and ugly, but to make up for it we have Valentine’s Day and a big President’s Day Weekend, right?”    The Uphill Skater

Yes, February is so very cold and we are all tired of it and know that it is not going away any time soon do we not? Well, yes we do. The question not becomes, “What are we prepared to do about it?” I for one am going to jump on it. I love Valentine’s Day and plan to think of something to do n the long weekend-so there. I know you get tired of tips and suggestions, but get used to it because here are some more-some ways to celebrate love and loved ones, good hearty foods, and something fun to do.

My husband and I were so poor on our first anniversary that we decided to just stay home and do nothing and not to even exchange gifts. We actually had such a great time, we decided to keep doing just that and we cherish the tradition. We long ago decided to do a big Valentine’s Day instead and we have kept that tradition too. One of our best ideas was to plan and prepare a candlelight dinner for ourselves. We actually used a cook book and made a lovely 4 course dinner and secretly wrote each other a love letter and put it under the other’s plate. We had such a memorable evening that we now do that frequently. So, suggestion 1 is to find a thing you like to do with someone you love and give it a special twist and maybe it will take hold. It is so empowering to a relationship to have traditions.

Now, something fun to do on a holiday weekend? Well, since this column is about living a healthy lifestyle in all of its definitions, let’s look at something healthy. If you are able, financially and time wise, by all means pack up and go somewhere. Get out of the house. Do whatever you can to do that. Go for a drive, go to a granny’s house, visit friends, whatever! If you can’t, don’t worry. There are still other fun things to do just for a change. Here is a suggestion I read in a children’s magazine years ago and have used several times. I set up a room in the house as a craft camp. I moved furniture back and put up a card table and covered the floor with a big blue drop cloth and we went to camp for the better part of 2 days. We were home, of course, so we had naps, meals etc. but all other time was spent in the camp. We worked with paint, clay, finger paint, leggo, big blocks and so on, but we also made a woven mat to hang on the wall and some other great crafts. My husband got behind it too and took the kids, and a couple of their friends who came in on the fun, out to the garage to make a bird house. What a hit!

January PINK Article (2019)

PINK Magazine

For the January Issue (2019)

 

Skating Uphill

By

Judith Lawrenson

“Everything these days seems to be about “RE.” Honestly it is enough to make one Regurgitate!”      The Uphill Skater

 

All right, all right, I know I watch too much HGTV, but doesn’t everyone these days??  It is all about remodel, repurpose, and redo. I must admit, I love that kind of stuff. Who does not love a recolor-yes, I am talking about dying roots, ladies, and I don’t mean the front lawn. What about a reupholster-sure, that old ratty sofa could really use it, right? At the same time, we could re-wallpaper and re-carpet too. How about that re-claimed wood craze? I mean you can hardly tear something down these days without Chip and Joanna Gains hitting you up to buy the wood then re-selling it for double the price. Okay, so what does all of this have to do with the upcoming new year and what to do about that self-improvement we are all so desperately seeking? Well, just an idea-why don’t we consider the idea of a re-resolve?

What that means is, dear ladies, why don’t we, instead of making a bunch of nonsense resolutions like dropping a bunch of weight or writing thank-you notes or some other thing that we have already tried and failed at, try a different approach? Why don’t we try to re-resolve? Yes, here is how this idea plays out. Have a good look back at some of your old New Year’s Resolutions that you have actually kept. I know there are at least a few, right? Back in the day when you were really in the mood for it you and I must have come up with some truly memorable resolves that we not only kept, but that worked well for us on a go forward basis.

For example, one year I resolved to get two laundry baskets, one for dark clothes and one for white clothes. I was tired of pink undies and bras and blue jeans with bleach spots. This worked so well for me that I bought baskets for my husband and both of my children. I grant you that I had somewhat mixed results with husband and son, but my daughter and I have great looking whites and very clean outerwear. Our underwear looks great too, but you will just have to take my word for that. I plan to re-resolve that one again this year.

Another really successful resolution for me was to pick up the phone and call someone every day. I don’t mean calling for a hair appointment, but honestly giving someone a call that you have meant to chat with or owe a call or need to talk in depth about something deep-not someone else, you guys. I said something, not someone! I have actually done this, and I mean to use it again this year. The fact that I am already doing it has no bearing on resolving it again. Are you starting to get the idea? What do you think?

I am also resolving again this year to try to eat more healthy foods. I can highly recommend this resolution because it has a lot going for it. First, if you do it, it is good for you. It is a positive change that has a benefit. Second, you did not say you ere going to eat only healthy foods or loose a bunch of weight or anything like that. You said you were going to “try” to et more healthy foods. That is just vague enough to be a winner in my book. You don’t say how much more or how healthy or any of those other specific things so what can it hurt, right? I mean who does not want to eat more healthy foods. Trust me folks, this is a keeper.

In closing, I want to say that this idea also has another side benefit that will prove the motto of this column is actually a good motto for life. We say that “Skating Uphill is hard, but when you reach the top, the view is worth it,” and we really do mean that. We talk a lot here about leading and living that healthy life style, and believe me, I get, just like everyone else, that it is not easy on the best of days and impossible on the worst of days. Sometimes that glass of wine and quiet time with the door shut is all that keeps one going. Sometimes too, it is a time that makes you heart sore with your own pain or the pain of a loved one. These times happen unfortunately, and they must be lived with.

Please do remember though and make it part of a resolution if you can-celebrate joy. Okay, corny, I know, but if we are called upon to endure pain, then we also must be allowed and even encouraged to celebrate the good times, the happy times, and the times of personal satisfaction. Be happy, do good, enjoy your many gifts!!  Love, Judith

Do you have a recipe to share???

Does anyone out there have a recipe for corn pudding? I had some at a buffet the other day but could not find the person who made it. What a great dish!

It was baked in a large glass pan and placed in a flat basket and served with a spoon. It was pretty solid-did not run off the spoon. It had a sweet taste. Yummy! Any ideas? Please share.

Pink Magazine-January 2019

PINK Magazine

For the January Issue (2019)

 

Skating Uphill

By

Judith Lawrenson

“Everything these days seems to be about “RE.” Honestly it is enough to make one Regurgitate!”      The Uphill Skater

 

All right, all right, I know I watch too much HGTV, but doesn’t everyone these days??  It is all about remodel, repurpose, and redo. I must admit, I love that kind of stuff. Who does not love a recolor-yes, I am talking about dying roots, ladies, and I don’t mean the front lawn. What about a reupholster-sure, that old ratty sofa could really use it, right? At the same time, we could re-wallpaper and re-carpet too. How about that re-claimed wood craze? I mean you can hardly tear something down these days without Chip and Joanna Gains hitting you up to buy the wood then re-selling it for double the price. Okay, so what does all of this have to do with the upcoming new year and what to do about that self-improvement we are all so desperately seeking? Well, just an idea-why don’t we consider the idea of a re-resolve?

What that means is, dear ladies, why don’t we, instead of making a bunch of nonsense resolutions like dropping a bunch of weight or writing thank-you notes or some other thing that we have already tried and failed at, try a different approach? Why don’t we try to re-resolve? Yes, here is how this idea plays out. Have a good look back at some of your old New Year’s Resolutions that you have actually kept. I know there are at least a few, right? Back in the day when you were really in the mood for it you and I must have come up with some truly memorable resolves that we not only kept, but that worked well for us on a go forward basis.

For example, one year I resolved to get two laundry baskets, one for dark clothes and one for white clothes. I was tired of pink undies and bras and blue jeans with bleach spots. This worked so well for me that I bought baskets for my husband and both of my children. I grant you that I had somewhat mixed results with husband and son, but my daughter and I have great looking whites and very clean outerwear. Our underwear looks great too, but you will just have to take my word for that. I plan to re-resolve that one again this year.

Another really successful resolution for me was to pick up the phone and call someone every day. I don’t mean calling for a hair appointment, but honestly giving someone a call that you have meant to chat with or owe a call or need to talk in depth about something deep-not someone else, you guys. I said something, not someone! I have actually done this, and I mean to use it again this year. The fact that I am already doing it has no bearing on resolving it again. Are you starting to get the idea? What do you think?

I am also resolving again this year to try to eat more healthy foods. I can highly recommend this resolution because it has a lot going for it. First, if you do it, it is good for you. It is a positive change that has a benefit. Second, you did not say you ere going to eat only healthy foods or loose a bunch of weight or anything like that. You said you were going to “try” to et more healthy foods. That is just vague enough to be a winner in my book. You don’t say how much more or how healthy or any of those other specific things so what can it hurt, right? I mean who does not want to eat more healthy foods. Trust me folks, this is a keeper.

In closing, I want to say that this idea also has another side benefit that will prove the motto of this column is actually a good motto for life. We say that “Skating Uphill is hard, but when you reach the top, the view is worth it,” and we really do mean that. We talk a lot here about leading and living that healthy life style, and believe me, I get, just like everyone else, that it is not easy on the best of days and impossible on the worst of days. Sometimes that glass of wine and quiet time with the door shut is all that keeps one going. Sometimes too, it is a time that makes you heart sore with your own pain or the pain of a loved one. These times happen unfortunately, and they must be lived with.

Please do remember though and make it part of a resolution if you can-celebrate joy. Okay, corny, I know, but if we are called upon to endure pain, then we also must be allowed and even encouraged to celebrate the good times, the happy times, and the times of personal satisfaction. Be happy, do good, enjoy your many gifts!!  Love, Judith

Pink Magazine-December 2018

Skating Uphill

By

Judith Lawrenson

PINK Magazine

December issue-2018

 

                                     New advice from an old friend!

 

 

I know I always give advice about how to stay away from the buffet table and tell you not to gain ANY weight at all every Christmas, but this year is different! This year I am really into the true spirit of it all and it is all because I have been in snow. I have not really seen big, beautiful snow since I left California fifteen years ago. We used to ski Lake Tahoe every year for all we were worth. It was fabulous and somehow missing that snow has kind of put a different cast on the holiday. This year, though, we have been visiting in a place where it snowed last night nearly a foot and it was beautiful this morning. so yeah, White Christmas has changed my mood.

In the past I have been weight obsessed, given away lovely candy and cookies and generally been a nutrition curmudgeon about the whole food aspect of Christmas.  Now, not so much. The whole thing seems to me still that it should not revolve around food and parties, but that so many other things about the spirit of the holidays are good for us in many ways. I plan this year to relax and enjoy all there is to see, do, and share.

First off, let’s talk about music. I happen to know that there are many musical performances all holiday season. In the past we have been to some but this year we will go to all we can possibly make. Seasonal music, whether it is by a high school choir, the Shorenotes, or the local symphony is so powerful and so much a part of traditions. One year we had a group of carolers come to our house and we loved it. I have vowed to do it myself with my family some year. My husband and son have beautiful voices and I can at least remember the words and sing along. Also one year, some kids from the high school put on some Victorian outfits and sang with a passed cup and made enough to buy all of their gifts. They also brought unexpected pleasure to Outlet shoppers!

Next let’s talk gifts. I just an article in Real Simple magazine about how to create children who are minimalists. This does not sound like too much Christmas fun, but wait a minute-it actually was of great interest to see some different idea for “presents.” We all have seen the ideas for something home made, a craft, a movie ticket, a surprise trip and that sort of thing and those are all great ideas. Thinking a bit more out of the box, what about a service? Our church makes baskets for the needy that actually include directions to local shelters and information on job counseling sites. One of my neighbors gave her elderly friend five “you name it” passes. these were good for a grocery trip, movie, ride to anywhere, out to lunch etc. Her friend was thrilled. Sometimes it is hard to ask-so, use your free pass! Last year our church chipped in and paid a month’s rent for a man whose wife had cancer instead of doing a gift exchange. What a great feeling that was.

We used to give our kids craft kits and traditionally after Christmas Dinner, we would spend the evening putting stuff together. One year we made the gingerbread house that topped all other ones in the universe! The next year, everyone got a beaded belt kit. OK, you are right, that was pretty much a flop, but we are still in their pitching. Anyway, I am sure you get the idea and can do even better.

Last but not least-How about YOU? Yes, we still need to take good care of ourselves. How about treating yourself to a nice massage? Why not try one of those pre-made food boxes for a week. Just for something crazy, buy yourself that extra special bottle of wine you were going to buy for someone else and buy them a cheaper one. Oh, my. I could not do THAT! Well, yes you can. Here is your permission slip. Buy an outfit that you can’t afford and don’t worry about it. I know that sounds unwise, but that is exactly the point for once.

Christmas is new birth even more than Spring. It is promises fulfilled and hope that has come to life. Let yourself be a part of it. Yes, this is a very healthy thing to do-trust me!