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Healthy Aging

Happy (?) Holidays!

By Sheryl Kraft

Created: 12/17/2009
Last Updated: 12/17/2009

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These are the two words I hear everywhere I go, from the mouths of store clerks to telemarketers to the UPS guy. But a few things I've recently read make me wonder if the holidays are so happy for everyone.

Take these news items, for example:

Holidays Trigger Domestic Violence

  • Stress associated with the holidays along with increased alcohol use makes for a volatile combination in some.

You can read the full report .

Heart Attacks Increase During the Holiday Season.

  • Deaths from heart disease peak in December and January and spike on Christmas and New Year's Day. Rich food? More stress?

Read it .

But what about the nice things that happen around the holidays? Here are some happy things I can think of:

  • Visits from distant relatives that you truly love but need a good excuse to drive the 3 hours to visit.
  • Gifts you'd never buy for yourself - truly indulgent and right on target
  • An excuse to eat foods you would never allow yourself to eat any other day of the year
  • Time off from work
  • Home-baked cookies from well-meaning friends (if you're lucky)

And here's my reason why any or all of these are healthy: they make you happy - and the link between happiness and health is well-documented. Happy people have younger hearts, stronger immune systems and sleep better, too.

So there, you negative scientists. Bah, humbug!

What nice things happen for you during the holidays?


I love to decorate, shop, bake and wrap and the holidays provide the perfect excuse!

The holidays are not always so jolly around here, because divorce produces a dilemma for adult children at vacation time, and when they marry a child of divorce as my daughter did, that makes four households hoping for a holiday visit. My second husband and I have learned to be grateful to have each other, and we feel this even more strongly over the holidays.

I second MarthaandMe. I'm all about the holidays.

Christmas Down Under means time at the beach and laid back meals with much less in the way of heavy food. Who wants a giant bowl of mashed potatoes when it is hot outside?

As much as I love Northern Hemisphere holiday food, I love NOT being around too much of it more.

To me the holidays is all about getting to spend more time with your family, to reconnect. We love to snuggle together and watch movies or read books or play games. Last year we literally spent hours playing Uno.

My happiest thing during the holidays is that there is no morning rush. I have little kids so I don't sleep in, but it feels like such a GIFT not to have to be anywhere super early.

That and my friend Abby's candied walnuts.

Suicides go up this time of year as well. :/

I try to stay cheerful, but it's hard when the weather is gray and drab. I try to read more and cook a lot, which makes me happy - though when my energy is low, cooking is pretty much out of the question.

For me, this year the holidays are a time of reflection and a bit of soul-searching about simplifying my life and giving the gifts of time and authentic caring.

What a wonderful, varied list. No matter how, the holidays affects each one of us.

So true. I was just thinking about this today as a sick colleague died the other day and I thought, "so many people die over the holidays." If nothing else, this is a good time to call and catch up with sick or elderly friends and family because you just never know.

I like to remind myself of where I've been, where I am and where I'm headed - literally and figuratively. Somehow, the holidays provide the perfect time and mood for just that.

Gingerbread houses with my kids! It's a tradition, as are my Christmas morning cinnamon rolls.


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