No, I’m not talking about drinking. I’m talking about the recurring nightmare so many experience year after year, as high hopes for Happy Holidays turn into the horrible reality of good intentions gone bad. They get to the end of the holiday season and find themselves weighing more and having less because they ate too much and spent too much. Can you relate?
Sadly, the cycle of unintended regret happens year after year because we fall into the same habits, digging the same holes, eating the same rolls, pie, cake, stuffing, you name it.
Then, we head out to buy stuff we can’t afford to impress people who will most likely store or ignore the stuff we just bought. Do you have any idea how many gifts remain in a box, sit in a closet or attic, or (are you ready for this?) are given to someone else in that hideous yet hidden practice no one ever admits to doing – re-gifting.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t enjoy the food at Thanksgiving. I’m simply suggesting you (and me, too!) not try to eat and enjoy ALL of the food available at Thanksgiving. Neither am I against people shopping or getting gifts for family, friends and loved ones at Christmas. I’m simply saying we need to have a plan for both. If we don’t, as sure as the calories accumulate and the cash evaporates, you and I will overeat and overspend again this year, and then, we’ll have to get in line at the gym come January, nearly killing ourselves just trying to get back where we were before the holidays.
This silly scenario can easily be stopped. As Barney Fife used to say to Andy Griffith, “You got to nip it in the bud!”
So what’s your plan for the holidays? They’re already here. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving! You do have a plan, don’t you? If not, here are some simple suggestions to help all of us ...
1) Be sensible at every meal. We don’t have to have one of everything and certainly not two of anything. Exercise restraint and even make some time for exercise.
2) Develop a budget. Write down what your plan is for giving gifts this Christmas. Remember JESUS should be at the top of the list because, after all, it is His birthday. Make a list of every gift you want to get and every person to whom you want to give a gift.
3) Take inventory of what you have before you buy what you want. Charging huge bills on your credit card is never smart. Especially around the holidays when your heart so often overrules your head. If you spend beyond your means - what that means is - you won’t have what you thought you had once you get beyond the holidays. You’ll have a bunch of bills because you didn’t have a plan to avoid them.
4) Pay cash whenever possible, and don’t go into debt just because you feel indebted to those you love and care about. To me, DEBT is a Dumb Explanation for Buying Things. Or it serves as a reminder, DEBT: Don’t Even Buy That. Sure those LEXUS commercials can be pretty inspirational for all of us. Don’t get caught up in the emotion of the moment and make a decision that will affect your life for many months, even years ahead.
5) Make time every day to get exercise of some kind. Unless you have a health problem or you’re on a doctor’s restriction from exercising, find something you can do – even if it's walking around the block, to get your body moving and get those calories burning.
6) Look down the road. Ask yourself, where do I want to be when the holidays are over? Do I want to be buying bigger clothes to try to hide the fact I ate too much and exercised too little? Do I want to have my mailbox bulging with bills I can’t pay, for emotional decisions I should’ve disciplined myself not to make?
The holidays should be and can be holy and happy days for all of us. They will be if we discipline ourselves to a few holy habits, common sense and self-control. If we learn to do it this year, it will be easier to do next year and the year after that. Then, instead of viewing the holidays as a recurring nightmare year after year, we’ll look forward to the holiday season as ...
“The most wonderful time of the year!”
© 2014 Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.