“It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you ‘Be of good cheer’…
It’s the hap -happiest season of all…”

December is a month filled with holidays and celebration. If you love the holidays, then the words of the old 60s song that declares this ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ probably puts a smile on your face. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, or simply enjoy the season as a whole, we wish you health and happiness! Do you and your family have a favorite holiday tradition? Here are some of our favorites…

Get some music into your holiday
Christmas caroling is an ancient tradition, dating as far back as A.D. 129. This is one tradition that’s guaranteed to get you and your family into the holiday spirit. And it’s free and easy to do – all you have to do is sing. You can do it at home – a good old family sing along with just your family, or invite friends over to join you. Or you can seek out the music wherever it’s to be found – at the mall, a jazz concert or ballet. Why make music part of your holiday tradition? Studies have found that music relieves stress and elevates the listener’s mood. One study found that music’s effect on anxiety levels is similar to the effect of getting a massage.

Light up the mood
Many holiday traditions involve lighting candles. A candle is lit each night for eight nights during Hanukkah. Similarly, a candle is lit on each of the seven nights of Kwanzaa. On Christmas Eve, candles are lit during midnight mass. In our own homes, lighting candles can be a pleasant family holiday tradition. Candles have a calming effect and offer an opportunity to dim the lights and unwind. Don’t just burn any old candles though. Make sure you get beeswax candles, which purify the air as they burn, and are therefore good for your health.

Create a family tradition
Create a new tradition; one that is your very own and makes you proud to be a member of your amazing family. If the weather allows, a family walk, run or bike ride might be a lot of fun. Pick a day and a route, name the activity after your family and even print t-shirts for all the participants. How about a family photo day with a difference? Pick a fun and beautiful location for your family photo and plan a fun photo day. If everyone is having a good time the smiles will come naturally for a great family picture.

Make someone happy
Giving and receiving gifts is one of the most satisfying holiday traditions, especially for children. It’s also a great time for family community service or to give thoughtful gifts to the less fortunate. Not sure where to start? Check out the Volunteer Opportunity Calendar at www.handsonphoenix.org. Studies show that giving is good for your health. Some of the health benefits associated with giving are lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, less depression, lower stress levels, longer life, and greater happiness. So in a sense, you will get as good as you give this holiday season.

Food challenge
The holidays are about tasty food, not healthy food, right? Wrong. Who said healthy food has to be boring? Here’s a great food challenge: Find ways to make healthy food into tasty food. For instance, you can find ways to prepare and serve fruits and vegetables that gets everyone wanting to eat them, or add a healthy secret ingredient into a fun food like cookies. See the article on Page 3 for some creative tips on this. If you and your family are eating healthy through the holidays you will feel great and be happier.

Get to know the neighbors
What better time to get to know the neighbors than when everyone is in a relaxed holiday mood. But don’t just show up at their door empty handed! Bring them some festive home-baked cookies or another of your favorite homemade treats. Baking the cookies will make for a fun family tradition, and you might put a smile on a few faces with your surprise gifts. Don’t forget to save some of those cookies for yourselves to enjoy after you’re done with your deliveries.

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