Three things to look out for (not do) this holiday season

December 1, 2017

By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be in the rear view mirror, but we’ll still be telling tall, accurate tales about what sat on our Thanksgiving tables. Many of us were blessed to not just have one turkey, but two — baked and fried. And the bird was just the centerpiece. There were ample side dishes from sweet potatoes to collards to black-eyed peas to green beans and everything in between. And then there were the desserts.

Now we’re staring Christmas in the face and the holiday parties will be an almost nightly affair. How do we keep ourselves from blowing up as we close out 2017 and welcome 2018? There are several definitions of “blowing up.” We’ll talk about three.

First, think of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 as you enter the holiday season: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

Think of that scripture before heading back to the table for a second helping. Also think about the new guidelines for high blood pressure that were issued last month by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology.

According to a New York Times story, the new guidelines will triple the number of men under age 45 with a diagnosis of high blood pressure, and high blood pressure in women under age 45 will double.

“High blood pressure is second only to smoking as a preventable cause of heart attacks and strokes, and heart disease remains the leading killer of Americans,” the newspaper said. What does this mean? Some of us are walking time bombs and every time we overeat, we are putting more stress on our bodies, not just our hearts, but our entire digestive and circulatory systems. Couple that with our habit of catching a nap instead of walking it off puts us in danger. We know who we are. Chances are having high blood pressure is not news to many of us. Getting it under control should be a priority for 2018.

But the new guidelines mean that while some of us might have thought we were OK before with a 139/89 (actually borderline), the guidelines shifted. Now high blood pressure will be defined as 130/80 millimeters of mercury or greater for anyone with a significant risk of heart attack or stroke. (The first number describes the pressure on blood vessels when the heart contracts, and the second number refers to the pressure as the heart relaxes between beats.)

Here’s a tip. Blood pressure changes throughout the day, checking it once is not a diagnosis. It would be wise to check it a different times of day, and if you have a personal blood pressure cuff, make sure it’s the right size for your arm or wrist. They run the gamut in price, but a good one can be picked up for $100 or less. Here’s a site that can help you make a decision about your next doctor’s visit:

The second thing on our list of what not to do this Christmas season is pretty simple. Do not overspend. It’s nice to play Santa, but there are no credit card bills delivered to the North Pole. However, the Post Office will find you in the lower 48. Overspending, even if you have a good income creates stress and puts pressure on every aspect of your life, all for the very fleeting pleasure of smiles on Christmas Day that soon disappear.

Look at your credit cards and remember with every purchase that you are adding 15 to 20 percent or more interest to it.

This year, give special gifts from the heart. It could be anything from a family trip to the one thing a family member needs rather than just wants. Sometimes all they need is your time and attention. And never forget the reason for the season. If Christ, who gave us the greatest gift of all, isn’t at the center of our giving then it’s not worth the effort.

And the last thing not to do is allow this season, full of family, some who don’t always get along, stress us out. Stay prayed up and Jesus will help us through every situation, even when one of those relatives wears out their welcome.

Written by Charles E. Richardson