Holiday survival guide

Okay so it’s the day after Christmas, now what? Today’s guest columnist, Nancy Crosby, takes a proactive approach. Be happy, exercise and when it all becomes too much, take a nap.

Repeat as necessary. But above all, enjoy yourself and be thankful for what you’ve got. She has also managed, not only to supply her own Nearly Useless Factoid but also to get President Warren G. Harding back in the news:

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To get some ideas for my guest column, I googled “Topics of interest to federal employees.” But I couldn’t get beyond all the liquor ads that popped up. Just kidding! I did find an article that claimed to list the pros and cons of working for the federal government. Reading through the lists, I can see some overlap between their list and my own of the pros, and even more overlap in the list of cons.

I’ll leave it to any curious readers just what points of overlap exist. I considered making a Venn diagram because unlike some elected officials, I do understand how they work. I know retirement, attacks on benefits and the always topical “Will there be a shutdown?” are relevant, but I think Mike and the other Federal News Network columnists give this much better treatment than I could.

Since I couldn’t really mine enough material for an entire column from that search, I started thinking of other ideas. Holidays are an obvious topic. As federal employees, we get a paid holiday for Christmas and New Year’s Day. But people celebrate many different winter holidays. Wikipedia describes more than I have the space to list here, but I encourage everyone to learn about some of the different ways humans celebrate this time of year all over the world.

Depending on which side of the equator you live, it’s either the winter or the summer solstice, which marks a decided change in the apparent motion of the sun in the sky. For those of us in the northern hemisphere it means we can once again expect the daylight hours to start getting longer. Sure, the worst of the winter cold and storms is ahead of us, at least in the most northern latitudes, but it gives us something to cling to as we trudge through the bitter cold, sleet, ice and snow.

While the holidays are a time of festivity, celebration, and joy for many people, it is a time of stress, anxiety and even depression for others. There are a lot of tips available for coping with the difficulties around this time. I like this one: “Keep your expectations reasonable.” Watching some of the advertising for the sort of gifts people are expected to give one another, I often ask myself, what are you going to do to top that next year? How many expensive luxury vehicles and enormous diamond pendants can anyone have? People are just setting each other up for inevitable disappointment when expectations for the holidays get so over the top. I’m glad I don’t have their credit card bills.

One of the best ways I’ve found to cope with the stress and depression of long cold winters is exercise. Studies show this can be a very effective way to lift your mood. And it’s good for you in lots of other ways. So why do so many of us sometimes find it such a chore? Especially in winter, when it’s dark when you go to work, and it’s dark when you come home and it’s cold and there’s probably ice on the ground? It can be a struggle, but I have to admit I have never felt worse after a workout. And while it doesn’t actually solve problems, it does seem to help me feel less stressed and better able to manage whatever crap life is throwing at me. Plus, it helps burn some of the calories of all those delicious holiday treats that are so readily available and even more irresistible this time of year.

I do get tired of trying to be cheerful and when that happens, it just helps to take a nap. Hey, millions of years of mammalian evolution can’t be all wrong, and the urge to hibernate is strong, when it’s dark and cold all the time. Good night everyone, see you in the spring!

Whatever winter holidays you celebrate, I wish you happy and healthy ones!

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Nancy Crosby

Tom and Jerry aren’t just a cartoon cat and mouse. It is also a holiday cocktail first created in the 1820s, A favorite of President Warren G. Harding, the drink is a variant of eggnog with brandy and rum added and served hot.

Source: Wikipedia

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