These are the two words I hear everywhere I go, from the mouths of store clerks to telemarketers to the UPS guy. But a few things I've recently read make me wonder if the holidays are so happy for everyone.

Take these news items, for example:

Holidays Trigger Domestic Violence

  • Stress associated with the holidays along with increased alcohol use makes for a volatile combination in some.

You can read the full report here.

Heart Attacks Increase During the Holiday Season.

  • Deaths from heart disease peak in December and January and spike on Christmas and New Year's Day. Rich food? More stress?

Read it here.

But what about the nice things that happen around the holidays? Here are some happy things I can think of:

  • Visits from distant relatives that you truly love but need a good excuse to drive the 3 hours to visit.
  • Gifts you'd never buy for yourself - truly indulgent and right on target
  • An excuse to eat foods you would never allow yourself to eat any other day of the year
  • Time off from work
  • Home-baked cookies from well-meaning friends (if you're lucky)

And here's my reason why any or all of these are healthy: they make you happy - and the link between happiness and health is well-documented. Happy people have younger hearts, stronger immune systems and sleep better, too.

So there, you negative scientists. Bah, humbug!

What nice things happen for you during the holidays?

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