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It’s the Season for Giving

It is indeed special. During this season, some family’s carry out traditions that may be older than the longest lived members of their family. Some of these traditions bring the sweetness that we long for in life, starting at Thanksgiving and concluding with the celebration of New Year’s. This sense of tradition binds us as family and as one. It helps us understand the love we share, the uniqueness of our families and our ways. When all else fails us in life, it’s the love and strength of our family and traditions that keep us close during the best and worst of times.

What traditions do you and your family share that are both unique and special to you and the members of your family and closest friends? Many of us eat certain foods during specific holidays, while others maintain certain spiritual or religious traditions that help keep them feeling closer as a family and to God. I’m a fan of many of the traditions that I hear about for my friends and patients. They draw friends and family members together and help to inspire a deep sense of love and connectedness. The strength of which provides the force that helps keep us together during the most difficult and the most wondrous times of our lives. Without these special traditions we would lose the very threads that helps create and support the events that become the tapestry of our lives.

As I share my thoughts with you while writing this article, I’d like you to take a moment and reflect upon your own life. What are some of the special traditions and memories you cherish? Perhaps, they take you so far back in your life that you can’t even date the memories anymore. They occur to you as always being a part of you.

Some years ago I had an interesting thought. It occurred to me that traditions have a great deal of power in helping to shape people’s thinking and behavior, so as doctor whose focus is on the creation of health with my patients, rather than the of management disease; I wondered if I could start a healthy tradition with my own family. A tradition that would help inspire joy and health.

Years before a good friend of mine gave me a set of keys to his gym and said I could use it anytime I wanted. This generous offer became one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. His generosity allowed me to train my kids and their friends anytime I wanted. This one kind gesture, allowed me to bring forth athletes who later became state, national and even world champions. These young men and women set more than 70 national and world records. They learned the value of what one can do with great mentoring and understanding the distinctions of proper technique, discipline, focus, commitment and desire.

Learning about success at such an early age helped motivate them to become very successful young adults. Several of them are striving to become doctors or have already completed their doctoral programs, while others have found careers in other notable professions, and are also doing very well.

What came to me was that if I put the same practices into play with my immediate family and close friends, they could put the same practices into place, creating the same joyful traditions that also embraced a consciousness of healthy living. I then decided that every New Year’s Eve as the clock struck midnight, we would all sneak away for the first 30 seconds of the new year and do push-ups or some other form of exercise to usher in our new year. This made a strong statement about how we wanted to enter the upcoming year, and allowed us to immediately start fulfilling our goals and objectives for making healthy lifestyle choices and still have lots of fun during the holidays.

This tradition became such a hit with my family that we’ve now extended it to numerous other holidays during the year, like Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Maybe it’s time that we collectively find ways of making healthy lifestyle choices part of all the other wonderful traditions that we maintain throughout the year and our lives. Doing so, would help keep us strong and united as families, friends and communities.

Remember, it’s difficult for sick friends and family members to travel and take part in the joyous events that we celebrate during the holidays. Take great care of yourself and make sure you support your family and friends in making healthy choices, so you can make and share memories that will last not only a lifetime, but for generations.