Fighting the Holiday Blues and the Holiday Bulge

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When I was younger, I loved Christmas. What child doesn’t? I even loved it as a young adult. Christmas Break always meant parties and fun. Once I had children, Christmas got a bit more complicated. All of the sudden, the season became full of financial stress as well as expectations.
Trying to hide “Santa” gifts as well as keeping up with traditions can also be exhausting. I don’t mean to sound like a total scrooge because I really do love making Christmas cookies, Panetonne, and Christmas dinner. Let’s face it though, buying a Christmas tree, putting it up, and decorating it is at least a two day process. I know making 1,500 plus cookies is my choice, but as busy as we all are these days, it can be difficult to squeeze it in.
Since I’ve had kids, I’ve kind of struggled with the whole Santa thing. I know it’s a fun, magical, old tradition. It is really fun when your kids are young, but isn’t there something a little scary about a strange, large man coming into your house while you are sleeping? My daughter, Lidia, is one of the most confident souls I have ever met. She will walk up to any group of kids anywhere and say, “Okay guys, what are we playing here?” She was totally into the idea of Santa, but trips to see him, and the idea of sitting on his lap, would always send her running for the hills.
I also struggled with having to lie to my kids. I hated when they got older, and the lies had to be more elaborate. I felt like I always had to be on alert for a radio or TV show that would “spill the beans.” So many of us have stories of finding out, and feeling totally duped by our parents. Aren’t these the people we’re supposed to trust more than anyone? Once you find out about Santa, you question the Easter Bunny (how frightening is this character), the Tooth Fairy, and perhaps, even baby Jesus. Worst of all is the child who makes it to seventh or eighth grade, still believing, standing his or her ground, only to be completely humiliated and crushed. Maybe it’s just life. Maybe believing in Santa and finding out about his lack of existence is a rite of passage that all kids must endure. Maybe our ancestors hundreds of years ago knew exactly what they were doing.
This year was no different. My personal chef services tend to slow down approaching the holidays. Three of my steady clients moved to Florida for the winter. Also, my weight loss and clean eating programs sort of get tossed out the window during party season. I decided to pick up a job waiting tables through the holidays to help with seasonal expenses. Working at Biltmore’s Stable Café, I knew I could bring in good money, besides, it would be really festive and fun. It is also the busiest time of year for my husband’s job. He’s stressed, I now find myself with three jobs, and relatives are headed down to stay with us. The Biltmore job was fun and festive, but it was hard physical work, and long hours, AND the kids were out of school. I found myself getting up at 4am to roll out, bake, and decorate cookies. Waiting tables, running the household, my personal chef business (I still have active clients), entertaining relatives, keeping up with traditions, shopping, and cooking was about as much as this Momma could take. I found out several years ago that you can’t beat Christmas. You just have to weather the storm, ride the current, flow with the rapids. It’s a wonder we all get out alive. It makes sense that everyone is stuffing their faces with cookies and candy, and downing cocktails, wine, beer and other treats.
My husband and I have been suspicious for a year or two that our kids totally knew about Santa. They are such bright, smart, sharp little humans. I felt that we were almost insulting their intelligence by continuing the charade. We wanted them to find out the truth from us. We also wanted them to be aware that Christmas gifts, toys, and electronics did not just fall from the sky. It’s a big expense, and we have to work extra to cover the cost. We had several discussions, and the topic happened to come up in conversation over dinner one evening, so we went ahead and told them who the “real” Santa was. My son, who is 10, said that he kind of figured as much. Our daughter, however, who is 8, had tears shooting from her eyes. She absolutely had no idea. Major parenting fail!!! In hindsight, I still agree with our decision to tell them, but perhaps we should have waited one more year. She assured us that we didn’t ruin her Christmas, and she decided to “just pretend” that she didn’t know the truth. Hopefully, when she has kids of her own, she will truly understand.
Fast forward to now. Christmas is over. New Year’s is over. My diet and exercise has been spot on for two weeks. I love it! I feel as if I am reborn. Everyone is hitting the gym with an intensity like no other time of the year. The internet is full of juice fasts and new exercise programs. My inbox is flooded daily with whole food, paleo, vegan, clean eating, and low calorie recipes. I am training to run an ultra-marathon. I am hitting the gym daily. I am in a flurry of yoga, meditation, setting and visualizing goals, boot camps, spinning, running, and weights. This is my Christmas! My husband tells me that I might be flying too close to the sun (meaning that I might crash and burn), but I disagree. Please join me for a series of posts for the next couple of weeks. I will be sharing what motivates me and lights a fire under me in the areas of diet, exercise, wellness, and overall success. Cheers!

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