The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Grate Christmas

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Readers have been asking about overeating, drinking, not having time to exercise, and overstressing on the holidays. Is it unavoidable? How can you resist things that are bad for you. Of all times to mark an occasion that is meaningful to you, that marks endings and new beginnings of a new year, celebrates thanks, a rite of passage, a national day of remembrance, a day marking something holy to your highest beliefs, the reflection of a new things coming, that day is the time to be free of baggage. Of all times to do simple, healthful actions for yourself and others, this is the time.

After the fuss of the holidays, then what? After the smiles and gifts, where are happy times? Where are your resolutions? The rest of the year is also the time to check in on loved ones, sweep the floors of a shut-in, and do healthy actions. At a funeral, everyone is there helping. The next week, the survivors sit alone. On Western Christmas, cars stop at the steam grates to give mittens and treats to the homeless huddled to keep warm. The rest of the year, cars pass without stopping.

On Christmas, most of the grates are empty as the city programs sweep up homeless for day-long programs. Each year before and after Christmas I cook thick vegetable soup, bake fresh loaves, pack up, put on my Santa hat, and head out into the weather to the grates.

We know many of the guys. I make food for them the rest of the year, or we go in the convenience stores to pick up things for them when the store won't let them in. My dinners cast steam curls upward. They chuckled, "Heh heh it be Saaaan--tah." We squatted down with them and unpacked dinner. I gave out toothbrushes as presents. They smiled angelic toothless smiles. They asked me the weather report, which called for storms, but I told them it didn't smell like storms. The air smells different somehow when it is going to storm.

The photo is Paul who worked as a Western-style Santa when we helped at a center. Little girls ran to sit on his lap. So did big girls. Many men too. At almost 7 feet tall, Paul has enough knee-space for everyone.

Christmas is not over. Eastern Orthodox Christmas will be in almost 2 weeks, since the Julian calendar date of 25 December is January 7. Armenian Orthodox celebrate Jan 6. On lunar calendars, there are the Festivals of Light of Devali and hanukah.
The winter solstice, Yalda, Saturnalia, Karachun, Kwanzaa, Yule, "Mother Night or "Modresnach," and Shinto Tohji-taisai are also celebrated around this time. There are festivals of appreciation, such as the Purnima. Islamic New Year of Muharram will be January 10th.

Be happy, be healthy. Is it not hard. It is not expensive. It is not stressful. Breathe. Stretch. Happy Holidays.

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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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