Year-End Reflections

Gayle Benator

From Gayle Benator

“I’m excited about the holidays, but I’m really feeling stressed…”

Extra stress can lead to extra eating and unwanted pounds. However, you can address this struggle by planning ahead. Here are some steps.

  1. Reclaim the meaning of the holiday season. What makes you grateful at this time of year?
  2. Identify what you would like to get out of the season as you attend parties and get-togethers that involve food. What purpose will food serve?
  3. Set reasonable goals for eating. Don’t diet, avoid food all day, or get too hungry.
  4. Focus on pleasures not involving food. For example, picture a relaxed you spending quality time with loved ones.
  5. Contain eating. For example, determine in advance when you will eat each meal, what time you will stop eating, and eat slowly to taste every bite. Consider strategies such as taking a small helping of the foods you want to try at a meal, checking in with yourself about how hungry you are, then going back only for your favorite foods.
  6. Check in with your thoughts and feelings frequently and address them by journaling.
  7. Reach out for support from family and friends if you have an eating disorder. In that case, consider attending support groups such as ANAD (Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders), OA (Overeaters Anonymous) or EDA (Eating Disorders Anonymous).
  8. Breathe, relax and take frequent breaks. Enjoy the holidays!

Carol Pitts

From Carol Pitts

The holiday season may be filled with wonder and merriment—but also with stress, exhaustion and moodiness. Children of all ages feel this, especially when their routines are interrupted with an overload of events. Even well-intentioned changes in schedule can impact behaviors and moods. Here are some tips to help you help your children navigate the holidays more effectively.

  1. Stick to your child’s sleeping patterns as much as possible.
  2. Eat meals on a regular schedule to maintain energy and blood sugar levels. Provide healthy snacks as needed.
  3. Limit the quantity of unhealthy foods and desserts.
  4. If traveling, consider leaving early in the morning (4-5 a.m.) when traffic is light, kids may go back to sleep, so stops may be fewer. Bring comfort items and toys for children, as well as snacks for the trip.
  5. Tell your children what to expect and coach them about appropriate behavior (e.g. what to say if they get a gift they don’t like).
  6. Develop an age-appropriate plan for screen time.
  7. Provide opportunities for physical activity and exercise.
  8. Be realistic and age-appropriate in your expectations of your children.
  9. Focus on creating joyful memories with your children.

Jackson Rainer

From Jack Rainer

For those who grieve at the holidays…

Remember that grief has no timetable. It operates on a cosmic, Divine schedule and comes as waves of memories of your loss – sometimes painful, sometimes warm, always with a surprisingly intense energy. Remember, too, that grief is not social. Those who truly know and appreciate you will understand self-care in ways that may be unusual and deeply personal. Finally, remember that you are loved and there are many who will care for you as you need as you come to terms with the loss.

This poem, author unknown, was read at the recent Southern Folk Advent in the Old Church of Oxford, GA. It is profound in its truth for how to grieve, particularly during the holidays.

Give What’s Left of Me Away

Now that I’m gone, remember me with a smile and laughter.
And if you need to cry,
Cry with your brother or sister who walks in grief beside you.
And when you need me, put your arms around anyone and give to them
What you need to give to me.
There are so many who need so much.
I want to leave you something, something much better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known and loved or helped in some special way.
Let me live in your heart as well as your mind.
You can love me most by letting your love reach out to our loved ones.
By embracing them and living in their love.
Love does not die, people do.
So, when all that’s left of me is love,
Give me away as best you can.


Debonee Morgan

From Debonee Morgan

No matter which faith tradition inspires you, we can all find hope and joy this holiday season as we remember the power of light within the darkness. Perhaps you celebrate the miracle of God’s sustaining luminescence in the ever-burning oil, or the Light of the World in the baby Jesus. Maybe you welcome the solstice with a burning Yule log, or find yourself sparked by the beauty of tree lights or the decorated hearth. No matter how you connect with that Something Bigger, please take a moment to remember that as we walk through our life’s adventures, we cyclically return to days where the dark seems equal to the light – but our nature shows us that those always (eventually) move toward greater illumination. The work of our soul is to wait in wonder for that movement, and to recognize the light where it shines. Here’s wishing you and your loved ones peaceful contentment as you brighten your hearts within the darkest days.


Kristy Aspinwall

From Kristy Aspinwall

The holidays are a time of joy and celebration, but they can also be a land mine for anyone those trying to stay sober. Special occasions are a leading cause of relapse for several reasons. Families, too, can be a source of stress and pressure. Many of us learned how to drink and use substances from our family—or have been ostracized from our family due to our substance use. The pressure to have a “perfect” holiday can be another trigger. Whatever the reason, staying sober through the holidays takes planning, preparing, and realistic expectations. Make sure that you have someone you can talk to about your struggles. If you attend support group meetings, go to a few extra meetings both before and after holiday gatherings. And, most of all, remember that the holidays don’t have to be “perfect” to be enjoyed. Ride with the hiccups and accept the surprises. At the heart of it all, the holidays are about celebrating the great things in your life, and one of those great things is your sobriety.