Merry Christmas and/or Any Additional Holiday/s of Your Choice

This post and the next two present a collection of bits and pieces from past Childhood Obesity News articles about the winter holidays. Because of where in geography and when in history we are, Christmas is mentioned a lot. But the basic principles of obesity avoidance naturally, and sadly, are relevant to the feasts and festivals of many religious traditions, at any time of year.

The insidious thing about Christmas is that it comes just a week before the new year begins. It seems like everybody in America has the same denial-driven mindset about the holidays — go for a big, double-whammy binge blowout over Christmas and New Year’s.

The bits and pieces may seem rather negative, and maybe this is a good thing. To be reminded about some of the annoying and hurtful aspects of the holidays can help us feel less sad about the features that are missing this year.

Nobody wants to be a catastrophe-predicting scold. But some words in the nature of a disclaimer are necessary here. Many of these past posts mention things like large family gatherings, travel, school parties, visiting relatives, faith-based and institutional events, and so on. This year, because of the pandemic, none of these activities can in good conscience be recommended. If we want to see people again in the next winter holiday season, maybe it’s not such a bad idea, this year, to give it a miss.

Not all the selections are grim. There is, for instance, some history:

In days of old, life was tough and boring, winter was dark, long, and cold, and any excuse was seized upon to fling mundane routine aside and boogie all night long. The tedium was relieved by raucous trick-or-treat type behavior, which later transmogrified into gentler customs, like the singing of Christmas carols beneath the neighbors’ windows.

There are tips on how to avoid and resist temptation, and here is a new one for the socially awkward. Somewhere in the group is the least persuadable person, who maintains autonomy, yet somehow manages to avoid the social penalty that non-cooperation sometimes extracts.

How does this mentor firmly, gracefully neutralize hostility? How do they say no, and get away with it? Observe the person’s demeanor. Watch them like a spy. Harken to their words, and take all that information away with you, and ponder it, and adapt it to your own personal style.

Here is more prime advice for parents and other responsible adults at get-togethers:

It would really be nice if all grownups could just decide to never, ever make remarks about a child’s size. Not even to note that they have gotten skinnier. Just leave that subject alone, because you don’t know what kind of can of worms it might open. And if a parent wants to bore you with all the details of young Jenny’s weight control battle, think about how mortified poor Jenny must be. Don’t sit still for this discussion. Excuse yourself and go outside and chop some wood. Evade and escape, while at the same time working off some calories!

How to feel better about missing the holidays

In one way, it feels messed up to think about any of these “luxury problems,” these crises of excess, when so many Americans are hungry and broke. This year is different not just because of COVID-19, but because of the widespread unemployment and impoverishment that accompany the pandemic.

And here we are, worried about people who have too much to eat. But in reality, this is a sign of the greatest optimism. Hopefully, by this time next year, the danger of eating too much will outweigh the danger of not having enough to eat. Things will be so good, everybody’s biggest problem will be having too much.

Too optimistic? So optimistic, it might be sarcastic? Not at all. Just trying to let a bit of the bright side shine!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Charles Patrick Ewing/CC BY 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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