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Don’t Stress Yourself This Christmas

The holidays can be a busy and stressful time for most people. This year, because of the pandemic, some people may be finding it even more stressful. Loss of jobs, loss of income, even loss of homes are some of the factors that can contribute to that stress. You can’t buy gifts for your loved ones the way you normally do; you can’t even socialize with them the way you would like to. Nothing about 2020 is normal. And since it isn’t normal, your reaction to this year must also be outside of the norm.

I don’t mean this in a bad sense. I don’t mean you must go out and do things that would get you into trouble. What I mean is, Christmas 2020 is a time when you should take a hard, critical look at the way you have been doing things in the past. Do you really have to clean the house from top to bottom? Do you have to try out new recipes to impress your family? Do you have to buy the most expensive gifts your credit card will allow? Or the most expensive decorations?

We have gone through nine months of living hell here in the US and other parts of the world. Nine months. Ask any woman who has given birth and she will tell you that those months can seem like an eternity. Still, she waits with patience and some nervousness for it to be over. And when it is over, she looks at her brand new gift with pride and joy. Will we do the same when COVID-19 is over? Will we have given birth to something we can be proud of? A new attitude, a new perspective, a new appreciation for all God has given us?

While expensive gifts and decorations and all the holiday trimmings help to enhance the festive atmosphere of Christmas, they have no bearing on the meaning of Christmas, and their appeal is short-lived. In case you didn’t know it, the meaning of Christmas is a celebration of the birth of the Christ child who was born of a virgin named Mary and who was destined to be the Savior of the world. You can read about it in Luke 2: 1 – 16.

The gospel of Matthew gives another version of the events surrounding Jesus’s birth. It says in chapter 2 verse 1, “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Some of you may have heard that this evening the planets Jupiter and Saturn will merge, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo’s time in the 17th century. Wherever in the world you are right now, you can see what has been dubbed the “Christmas Star” in the west/southwest part of your sky. I didn’t go out to look at it -there are buildings blocking my view – but I believe it’s no coincidence that we are seeing a star in the sky just around the time we celebrate the birth of Christ.

So what does this have to do with Christmas stress? It means we should be looking to follow the star through His word and spending time with Him. Make your Christmas preparations if you must, but don’t let that rob you of your joy and your peace. After all, the angels who announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds said to them, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2 : 14).

May the peace of Christmas fill your heart and home this Christmas season. Merry Christmas! I pray that this Whitney Houston’s rendition of Joy To the World blesses your heart as it does mine.

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Enjoy Thanksgiving On A Tight Budget

We will all agree, 2020 is a year like no other, and so our holidays will be holidays like no other. Or maybe I should take that back, because despite the CDC’s warning to limit travel for Thanksgiving, the airports are filled to capacity with people lining up to board full flights.

Others, like me, will be staying at home and enjoying Thanksgiving with our immediate family. Still, and this is the painful part, there will be lots of people all over the United States who will be joining the increasingly long food lines in order to feed their families on Thanksgiving Day. My heart goes out to them. But if you are like those of us who are staying at home, and your budget is tight, you may need to Keep It Simple. That may mean fewer side dishes, fewer desserts and maybe- dare I say it? – no turkey. By following the tips below, you can save yourself some expense :

  1. Try chicken instead of turkey – Let’s face it, a lot of turkey usually goes to waste every year. How many sandwiches, salads, casseroles can you make with the leftovers? Since you won’t have company this year, why not get yourself a nice whole chicken instead of a turkey and bake it? Chicken is tasty, nutritious, less expensive, and takes less time to prepare.
  2. Use ingredients you already have in your pantry. This Sweet Potato Casserole from All Recipes uses flour, sugar, and other staples you normally use.
  3. Buy individual amounts. If your family is small, there’s no point buying in bulk, unless you plan to share with someone.
  4. Look for coupons and specials. They are easy to find this time of year.
  5. Look for generic brands. They are less expensive and just as good as big-name brands.
  6. Buy some frozen foods. Fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper than fresh, and you can freeze the unused portions.
  7. Have a potluck. If you must have friends and/or relatives over, why not have a potluck? You will save money, time in the kitchen and you may pick up a new recipe or two.

This article will not be complete without a word of caution to you to be careful this holiday season. Remember, if you are a diabetic or have any underlying disease, you are at risk for catching the coronavirus, and if you do catch it, your chances of recovery are slim. So, please take care of yourself. If you must leave the house, wear your mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands as soon as possible. If you have to shop, go early or use store delivery. Watch your carb intake. If you use alcohol, have just one drink a day. Not too difficult, is it?

BTW, have you picked up your free, heart-healthy meal-plan for diabetics that includes avocados? If not, you can get it here:

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