How to treat and not cheat

Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. 

By Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach

Even though Chanukah has ended for another year, and the last of the menorah candle wax has finally been stripped off the kitchen counter, many of us are still in the throes of the gift-giving season. While the holidays have traditionally been marked by the ever-present cookie exchange and other festive yet calorie-laden favorites, those of us who strive to be more health-conscious are often at a loss as to what to bestow upon neighbors and friends at this time of year.

While visions of fruitcake may dance in our heads, be assured that the spirit of giving need not be sliced, baked, or dusted in powdered sugar. There are many fabulous ideas for giving this season that do not require time spent in the kitchen….or at the mall, for that matter!

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As the parent of a college-age student who attends a university halfway across the country, there is no present more precious than the gift of TIME. A few dedicated hours spent with our daughter, whether we are going out to lunch, visiting the botanical gardens, or simply watching a movie together, is priceless, having endured this first semester away from each other (MUCH easier on her than me, by the way…..!). The cost is minimal, and no cookies need be consumed in the process.

For elderly neighbors who, thank G-d, do not need anything, an offer to shovel their driveway or sidewalk can mean so much (yes, Virginia, there WILL be snow eventually!!!!). If the temperatures dip significantly below the comfort zone, running to the grocery store or pharmacy for a homebound friend is a beautiful way to honor the spirit of giving and generosity.

Many dual-income parents who are unable to take time off from work during their children’s school break might welcome some free and creative child care. An offer to watch their little ones for an afternoon is a wonderful way to show you care; and there is nothing quite like the magic of seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child to remind us of where our hearts are most needed.

If you have friends and family who are visiting from out of town, consider treating them to a day pass at your local gym, and perhaps a fresh fruit smoothie after the workout. The family that plays together stays healthy together!

The ideas are limitless, bound only by your creativity. This year, forego the fudge and snickerdoodles, and give of yourself, your time, your positive energy. You’ll be surprised how much you will get in return!