If you have not had a chance to treasure Anne Hinton Pratt’s Meridian article last week, “A Season For The Miraculous,” I hope you will give yourself a lovely Christmas gift and read it.  The story of her friend who saw, in vision, the Savior’s birth when it actually happened especially touched me.  He told her:

“I was in heaven, gathered together with countless spirits for the purpose of watching our Savior-to-be enter mortality. I could see those in heaven gathered as far as the eye could see as we were anxiously awaiting the moment. The mood/feeling/climate in heaven was one of anxious awe, humble excitement and indescribable gratitude.” (Anne Hinton Pratt, A Season For The Miraculous)

It happened.  Yes, it really happened!  The ancient prophecies were fulfilled, the long-awaited promises were kept. He was actually born — a tiny, sweet, crying newborn.  He would grow, like all darling babies, through the rapidly changing days of infancy and learning to walk, then becoming a busy toddler. On and on He grew, through the innocence of early childhood days right on into adolescence.  As the growing-up years flew by, as they did for each of us and do for our own children, we are told little other than Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, meaning he grew and learned as all children learn and grow. We are also told he also “grew in favor” with God and with people. (Luke 2:52)  That tells us he was loved by all and surely became a marvelous young man. (If you have not had a chance to read Marjorie Holmes’ beautiful book, “Two From Galilee”, I hope you’ll make that a priority.  Though fiction, His early years come to life in a beautiful way under the story-telling talents of this gifted writer.)

Can we dare to imagine the joys that a photo scrapbook of His early life would bring?  While that must be left, and rightly so, to our own imaginations and the renderings of talented artists, this we do know: He was born in literally the same, physical way each of us were born.  All the prophecies were literally and exactly fulfilled.  Many mere mortals like us were there to witness and personally testify that each and every promise was kept, even “every whit.” (3 Nephi 1:15-20).  

Profoundly, He had come to experience every challenge and temptation of mastering a physical body throughout His short, mortal life, even as we do.  What principle could be more important as we seek to understand His life and what it personally means?

In Alma 7:11-13 we read:  “He will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people … he will take upon him their infirmities that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”

In other words, yes, He came to experience a mortal body because it was essential for His own salvation, but He also came to help us with our own struggles with our own bodies!

For those of us who are seeking to master our bodily appetites and temptations, this is so very comforting!  The following letter from Dear Abby is familiar territory for most of us:
Dear Abby:  Along with millions of other Americans, I am overweight.  This time of year is particularly difficult for me because of the well-intentioned but misguided actions of friends and family.  With the holidays upon us, I have the following suggestions for anyone who knows someone who is fighting the battle of the bulge (and who doesn’t)?

1)  Avoid giving gifts of food.  This means all food – even your special sugar-free coconut cream pie.  Giving chocolates or other fattening treats is, at the least, insensitive and borders on downright cruelty.

2)  Do not “push” food on another person. If you’re hosting a meal or a party, make a variety of healthy foods available along with any special treats you’ve prepared.  Allow your guests to choose for themselves without comment.  It is especially unfair to use guilt (“I made these just for you!”) to force food on someone.

3)  Do not comment on how much (or how little) someone is eating. Such comments draw unwanted attention to attempts to maintain control of holiday eating.

4)  Have some compassion.  We don’t want to be fat.  Losing weight and keeping it off is extraordinarily difficult for some of us.  Don’t think that you know what our problem is, because you don’t.  Obesity is a complicated issue with behavioral, emotional and spiritual elements.  A single formula that works for everyone has yet to be discovered.

Finally, be supportive.  If someone you love is trying to lose weight, be available to listen. Do not judge. “Chubby” in Pittsburgh.

It all brings me to some important questions:   Could it be that one of the best ways I can celebrate his birth and life this month is to respectfully care for the body that I was given at my birth for my life?  And to turn to Him for support, because I know He cares and has experienced temptations too?  This is a question to prayerfully ponder!

This thought and question leads to a question someone asked at a Weight Watchers meeting when I was a leader.  As I presented the lesson for the day on managing holiday temptations, a woman in the back stood up and said, “I just have to say …“What does fudge have to do with the Baby Jesus?” 

Well said!  In continuation of the Dear Abby letter, here are five things to helps us take over the reigns of our own Christmas health sleigh:

  1. Make a New Promise Of Your Own: Our Heavenly Father and His Son kept their Christmas promise to us, why not make a promise to THEM and ourselves? What about a promise to celebrate his birth and life by caring for our own bodies in ways that we know would please Him?  Now that’s a promise worth making … and keeping!

    Christmas can be a healthier, happier, easier time when we make a promise to take good care of our own health this month as a way of honoring His divine birth, mortal life and supreme sacrifice, all made possible because of His mortal body.
  2. Make A New Plan: The year 2020 is like no other.  Out of reality and necessity, we will prioritize and plan in a different way than any time before. Never has personal health been of more importance.  Commit, as a gift for those you love, to make your personal health a priority by wearing your mask, eating wisely, avoiding sugar and junk food, exercising, taking your supplements and getting enough rest every day of the holiday month. Treat those “gifts to the family” as if your life depended on it … because it does!
  3. Give In A New Way:   Everything else has changed this year, so why not give non-food gifts for friends and neighbors to keep you out of the kitchen?  It’s very possible that our dear ones don’t want baked goods and treats from outside kitchens anyway this year! You can google non-food Christmas gifts for a ton of great ideas that they (and your own health/physical body) will appreciate.

    If you really want to give food, our favorite food give-away treat that will also keep you out of the kitchen is a  bag of Christmas spices tied to a bottle of apple juice to make spiced cider. I have provided the recipe below. They’re very cute with a big bow and a note. 
  4. Sing A New Christmas Carol: If you learn just this one song and sing it often, it will make a big difference in what you choose to eat and how you feel by the end of the month:

I’m Dreaming Of A Thin Christmas
(To the tune of “White Christmas”)

“I’m dreamin of a thin Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where my clothes all fit … and I can sit  for hours, in my smallest jeans
I’m dreamin’ of a thin Christmas
With every day December brings
Say goodbye to this double chin, because by next Christmas
I’ll be thin!

5) Commit to Some New, Holiday Healthy Recipes
Healthy recipes abound … we just have to commit to trying them!  As always, I urge you to spend some time at
www.ForksOverKnives.com and/or google “Healthy Holiday Recipes” and you’ll find many to make a happy, healthy difference.  Here’s one of our favorites that makes lots for a party, or just for your family with leftovers!

Holiday Slaw (Serves 12)

½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 (10-oz.) bag of thinly sliced red cabbage (about 4 cups)
1 (10-oz.) bag of shredded carrots (about 4 cups)
1 (3-oz.) package dried cranberries (about ¾ cups) like Craisins
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp. honey mustard
2 tsp. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 garlic clove, minced.

Mix first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Combine vinegar and next 5 ingredients in a small bowl, stir well with a whisk.  Pour vinegar mixture over slaw.  Toss well.  Best when allowed to sit and marinate for several hours.   (51 calories per serving)

Spiced Cider Gift

We have especially liked sharing this through the years because kids of all agescan help.  It’s fun as a Family Home Evening activity early in  December to put aside and deliver later.  I look all year for the apple juice to go on sale, and then buy in bulk.

Tie the bag to the neck of the juice bottle with a big plaid ribbon and a Christmas card.

In a snack-size zip-lock bag mix:

2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp.cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
10-15 tiny red hot cinnamon candies

Instructions:  Add spice contents to apple juice and gently simmer until red
hots have melted. The red hots make it a beautiful blushing pink color!

Yes, Christmas is a promise kept!  It can be a healthier, happier, easier time when we make a promise to take good care of our own health this month as a way of honoring His divine birth, mortal life and supreme sacrifice, all made possible because of His mortal body.

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007. She provided mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 through Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Sandy, Utah they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox.