Have fun, but be safe out there

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Once again the holiday season is upon us - how quickly time flies by! Like me, I'm sure the majority of you are looking forward to spending time with relatives and friends, enjoying delicious meals, and altogether having a joyous time. However, along with all the joy and happiness that comes with the holidays there is a downside. The holidays are a time when many of us may party just a little too hard, spend a little too much on gifts, or eat much more they we should. The key to enjoying your holiday experience is to avoid these tempting traps.

Parties abound during the holidays, as do opportunities for alcohol consumption. I know we hear it constantly, but it's important enough to say it again: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE! You owe it to your family, to your country and to yourself. More so than any other time, the holiday season is a time when we must take care of our wingmen. Have fun, but drink responsibly: select designated drivers before the party, not at the party. Don't overindulge, and don't let your wingman overindulge; nothing kills a party faster than an over-inebriated party animal.

What would the holidays be without gift giving? You can't watch 10 minutes of TV without seeing dozens advertisements offering "just the right gift for this holiday season" or tempting you to "buy now and make payments next year." It's so easy to get caught up in the season's generosity -- I know; I've been there. The generous act of giving brings us joy, but credit card bills have a funny way of tempering that happiness. Be sure to avoid this trap by defining your budget and sticking to it and by saving early for next year's holiday season (remember how quickly a year goes by!). Don't try to compete with the Smiths; their kids will probably always have more toys than yours.

Finally, the last of these three seasonal temptations: The urge to eat everything in sight, from hearty meals to unbelievable desserts. Oh, how we pay for it in January! I offer you three quick and easy tips to get you through this gastronomical gluttony. Kick your physical fitness lifestyle into high gear: Get outside and run, bike, or walk whenever possible. We're very lucky to live in an area where we can enjoy outdoor activities in December and January. Take advantage of the beautiful weather! Second, make fitness a family affair. Encourage your spouse and children to exercise with you, or give them bikes for the holidays to encourage healthy activities. And finally, if you can muster the self control, limit your caloric intake and only eat half of everything in sight. Happy holidays, and please be safe!