It seems the holidays can either bring out the best or the worst in people.

Admittedly, I’ve been quite the Grinch. Ask me about Thanksgiving, and I’d roll my eyes and say it was a tribute to gluttony and genocide. And Christmas? More like Consume-mas.

This year I’m trying to be less Grinch-y. I even cooked for the first time ever for Thanksgiving.

You see, my dad used to have this saying–Happiness is having a good day. I really took that to heart, and while I still think there’s a lot of truth in it, I’ve changed my perception about it. These days I think happiness is more of a decision.

Lately I haven’t been quite as focused on being positive, and I can feel the difference. Maybe it’s the holiday blues, but I don’t intend to succumb to that, or to marinate in my negativity the way I’ve done in years past. It’s kind of funny, you know. You’d think that since our brains are so concerned with our self preservation and well-being that it’d be easier to be positive. But, for me at least, having a good attitude and a chipper outlook on life is an effort. Happy thoughts are definitely not where my mind goes first.

But I’m still up for the challenge.

So instead of complaining about being forced to buy people presents in annoyingly crowded malls, I’m going to put more effort into coming up with creative gifts that represent more than just “I’m obligated to get you something and I had no idea what so I closed my eyes and picked the closest thing to me.” I don’t think you have to spend tons of money to give people meaningful gifts, and that’s going to be my focus this year.

I’ve never had a problem being consistent with exercise during the holidays, so that’s one less thing to worry about.

As for holiday weight gain, David and I are going to be having a little friendly competition to see if we can make it a certain amount of time without eating any added sugar. If I lose, I have to pay him $100. But aside from that, I’m not too stressed about my seasonal saddlebags.

Another thing I really want to work on is my response to people when they ask me how things are. For whatever reason, it is really hard for me to say something like, “Life is great!” I’m much more inclined to be like, “Eh. It’s okay. Nothing too exciting.” Part of it is that I feel like a fake and a cheeseball expressing any kind of enthusiasm. I guess I don’t have to go as far as sounding like my own personal cheerleader, but I’d also like to not be so apathetic.

So anyway, before this gets too long (too late), I wanted to share a couple of things I made for Thanksgiving. Please forgive my terrible photography skills. One day I’ll, uh, take better pictures.

Cranberry relish

Made from scratch. Yes, that means I used fresh cranberries!

Raw squash rice with onions, raisins and walnuts. I got it from this recipe.

I gotta tell ya, I’m not crazy about raw onions. The flavor was too overpowering. I really liked this recipe otherwise, but next time I’ll cook the onions first.

Ms. Guru Rabbit’s Sweet and Spicy Miso Pumpkin Squash Soup

Exciting picture, huh?

Sylvia used pumpkin in her recipe, but I substituted it with butternut squash. It was quite tasty. Today I actually mixed it with some of the squash rice and that was a total win.

I also made pear gratin and sweet potato casserole. But unfortunately I didn’t get pictures of them.

I really didn’t feel like working out today, but after yesterday’s feast I convinced myself that I had plenty of fuel saved up from all those carbs, and was probably capable of doing some decent lifting.

I did this shoulder routine:
Barbell push-press: 2×9, 2×8 55 lbs
Seated DB shoulder press: 1×8, 3×7 30 lbs each, for a total of 60 lbs

DB lateral raise 3×9 12 lbs each
Bent over rear delt raise 3×8 12 lbs each

Front raise 3×10 15 lbs

Then I did a frickin’ HIIT workout on the stairmaster for 9 minutes. NOT cute. Oh yeah, and I walked to the gym, which is a little more than a mile away from my house. Not too shabby, eh?

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