New York Times Best-Selling Author Ann Voskamp’s 9 year old son stood in front of the Christmas tree with its few presents beneath it. With both hands on his hips he faced her. A spirit of discontent clouded his face and filled his voice as he asked, “Why don’t we do big gifts, Mom?”

With a quiet prayer, for she herself coveted some Christmas gifts that would not be in the budget that year, she put her arms around her son and spoke quietly. “You know, honey, no one can wrap up anything that compares to the glory of our Heavenly Father. And how did He choose for His son to come to earth?”


“As a baby,” he replied quietly, not lifting his head.


“Yes, he came as a tiny little baby, and isn’t He the greatest gift of all?”

Together the two of them came up with a secret plan: they would make a list not of gifts they wanted, but little gifts they already had received, from God and others. Over the next few days they added snowflakes on the windowsill to the list, little red holly berries and many other lovely small things that make a day happy and beautiful.

It wasn’t too many days before her son commented, “You know what, Mom? I think we do big gifts around here after all! We’ve got more gifts to count than I ever guessed!”

(Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.)

It’s odd, isn’t it? To think that the Savior’s birth in a lowly stable to humble parents (who themselves came from humble homes with incredibly few belongings) should foster a holiday that is centered around the giving and receiving of material possessions?

Oh, I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy both giving and receiving gifts at this most wonderful time of the year, or honor the three wise men who commenced the tradition of giving Christmas gifts. Rather I propose that even as the gift of the Savior is not something that can be put in a box and gift-wrapped, there are other gifts of the season, gifts to be given and received that matter as much or more than what we’ll open on December 24th.Among those are gifts that we give, such as the one that Ann so magnificently gave her little boy.

How well I remember my own deep discontent as a teenager when my dear (and very busy) Mom wanted desperately to get her Christmas shopping finished. It was a difficult growing up period in high school, and as she came to me and again asked what I wanted for ChristmasI confessed, in a sudden burst of hot tears, “Nobody can give me what I want for Christmas!”

I desperately longed to be dating, for a few loyal friends who were reasonably “cool”, for clear skin, to be like the tall and willowy teens in Seventeen Magazine with clear skin, rather than very short and already battling my weight and acne. How I ached to be beyond a difficult stage of braces and teeth challenges that left dentists befuddled and me without several front teeth.

No, there was no cute shop at the mall to provide these things. I remember crying that afternoon, and her sweet support.  Looking back, as a mother myself, I’m sure there were tears and prayers of her own that Christmasas she watched, as all mother’s do, the difficulties that life’s journey had brought me, knowing there was nothing within her power to do anything but just be there.I don’t remember what I received that year on Christmas morning, but I do remember her great compassion and empathy for me that entire month, and it was a priceless gift.

December, with all its joys, is a landmine for both physical and emotional health. Unrealistic expectations about schedules, budgets, and family relationships way-lay the best of us.Creating Christmas for a family is often a full-time undertaking to be managed while already living at full-throttle. It’s enough to make the bravest of the brave want to go to bed and set the alarm clock for January 2.

So on this, the first Monday of December, with all of this beautiful month ahead here are three very simple little gifts that you’ll be high-fiving and squealing with glee come December 25 and January 1, when you realize the gift you’ve given yourself (and those you love this month), i.e.Sanity and Health.

1. A calendar, a red pen and a 3×5 card. Either alone or with your family, sit down and mark in ALL the dates, school performances, parties, gatherings, etc.  

For the ones where there will be holiday party food served or that you’ll be providing, outline the box in RED. What you will quickly see is that although the month may be busy, not every day is boxed in red. There is simply no reason to abandon healthy eating and exercise for the entire month with the all encompassing “It’s Christmas! I’ll get going in January” excuse. Exercise and smart eating, even if it’s not 100% all month, go a long way to feeling physically and emotionally up to the challenges of the holidays.

Now, on a 3×5 card list 3-5 of your favorite Christmas treats. List where they will be served or available, then write down when you will eat them. Make yourself a prayerful promise to honor this commitment. Carry a copy of the card with you and post one on the refrigerator.

For example, cookies will be served many times throughout the month. My favorite are sugar cookies with icing, and our homemade gingersnaps. I choose to eat mine on the day our family makes them, as ours are my favorites, not the goody plates from neighbors. I put several aside to eat the week between Christmas and New Year’s, when the family enjoys them, not at a counter all alone while I’m fixing dinner. Period. Since I already know that mine are my favorites, there’s no reason to eat all the others that will surely come my way this month. Whew. What a relief!

Do the same with a few of your favorites, and you will be way ahead of the game!

2. A bottle of hydrogen peroxide with the little white cap to nip colds and flu in the bud!  Does anything spoil December and your schedule more than you or a family member getting sick?

When I first heard of this trick several years ago, I laughed, but not wanting to miss out on any possible benefits, we tried it, and found that it works 75%to 85% of the time. It seems that the real gift to yourself (and family members) is to do it fast enough, within the first hour or two when it starts to register in your conscious thought that your throat is scratchy or you feel achy.

I stress again: Don’t wait! Buy severalbottles of hydrogen peroxide and have them waiting at home, in the car, in your desk at work. At about $1.00 a bottle at any drugstore, you can’t afford to be without it.

Here’s why: (You can easily Google this yourself if you want more information.)

In 1928, Richard Simmons, M.D. hypothesized that colds and flu virus enter through the ear canal. According to Dr. Simmons, contrary to what you may think or have been taught about how you catch a cold or the flu, there is only one way that you can catch either, and that’s via the ear canal – not through the eyes or nose or mouth as most believe. Once the cold and flu virus have entered the inner-ear, they begin their breeding process, and from there have access to every avenue throughout our body to infect and make us sick.

In 1938, German researchers had great success using hydrogen peroxide in the ear to treat colds and flu. In the 1940’s antibiotics were discovered and were so successful in treating bacterial infections like pneumonia or strep throat that people forgot all about treating colds and flu with hydrogen peroxide. We now know that antibiotics will do nothing for colds or flu that are caused by viruses. It is a medical fact that antibiotics do nothing for the flu or a cold caused by a virus. People in the know, however, for many years have been using hydrogen peroxide to attack the influenza virus and the common cold virus where they begin their breeding process in the inner-ear (middle) and not where they have already spread.

Once again, is important to begin treatment as soon as symptoms appear with one caution, it should not be done if you have a perforated eardrum!

DIRECTIONS: Fill the little white cap 2/3 full. Tilt your head to the side and pour it in. The hydrogen peroxidestarts to work within seconds to kill the virus. You will probably feel nothing or there may be some bubbling or mild stinging. Let it stay in the ear for about 5 minutes or so and then drain onto a tissue and repeat in the other ear.

If you begin at the first sign of catching a cold usually only one procedure is necessary. If you don’t begin at the first sign of catching a cold, you may need to repeat the process two or more times at one or two hour intervals.

Children will need someone they trust to help them hold their heads still and to tell them it won’t really hurt, but may sting or tickle a bit.

You can also gargle with it: After emptying both ears, I then go one step further by gargling with a hydrogen peroxide dilution of two parts water and 1 part hydrogen peroxide.

Gargling with the above hydrogen peroxide dilution will stop almost immediately a trench mouth infection, is wonderful for a sore throat, and is even recommended as a teeth whitener. Hydrogen peroxide should not be swallowed. For this reason, you should never allow a child to gargle with hydrogen peroxide.

If you want go one step further, you can use a nasal sprayer and spritz a bit up the nose. By also treating the nasal passages, you can make the treatment even more effective.

We believe from our family’s experience that almost all colds and flu can be stopped with the help of hydrogen peroxide to kill the virus and bacteria at the source of infection. For less than a dollar, you can stop an unlimited number of colds, the flu, and other infections.

3. Heloise’s Non-Fat Low-Salt Cream Soup: No one makes good food choices when they’re hungry! As always, I recommend a quick trip to for their great healthy recipes. But here’s one from Heloise that’s truly a dandy! There’s nothing like a thick, creamy, comforting soup.

Here’s one that you can use with ingredients from your food storage. It takes just a few minutes, and it tastes great and is extremely satisfying. We tried it out with spinach and a frozen veggie mix (carrots, peas, green beans) and marveled over the flavor, texture, and absolutely NO fat! Salt is not an added ingredient in this Heloise’s Non-Fat Cream Soup recipe, which can serve as a base for any cream soup you make. For the chicken bouillon powder, there are salt-free versions available. You will need:


1 cup nonfat dried milk powder
1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder
1 / 2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 / 2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 / 4 teaspoon black pepper
1 / 2 to to cup veggies of hoice: mushrooms, spinach, broccoli

Mix these ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Then, when you want to make your soup, you will add:2 cups cold water. Stir continually over medium heat until it thickens, then add the veggies. (We steam ours while make the soup so they were hot and ready to add as soon as the soup is thickened. 1 / 2 cup of the main ingredient (for example, mushroom for a mushroom cream soup).

There you have it the startings of a truly beautiful December for you and those you love! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Note from Carolyn: I have gotten rave reviews for my roll recipe from my Thanksgiving article! It’s a keeper for your Christmas festivities. The one ingredient I left out (optional) is 1 Tablespoon of salt.

Carolyn Allen has been providing weight loss inspiration since 1999 both online and in community venues in the Washington, D.C. area. Her favourite food is steamed broccoli (lots of it!) with a little butter and lemon-pepper. Her book, “60 seconds to Weight Loss Success”, is available at her site, or Learn more about her herbal health tonic and colon cleanse at