June 12, 2024   3:45pm

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On Harriett's Mind

What seasonal greeting should you use … ?

It’s the holiday season. What do you say?

The other day a Dutch friend commented that he didn’t feel right wishing me a “Merry Christmas” because I’m Jewish, and then he asked what he should say to show his good wishes. I explained that “Happy Holidays” was just fine because the Jewish holiday of Chanukah also comes around the same time, and it also falls at the end of the year. (Truth is, “Merry Christmas” is also fine with me, because it’s the good wishes that are nice to hear. If I don’t celebrate a particular holiday, others do and so what — but that’s just my perspective).

Anyway … upon reflecting on this –technically — even “Happy New Year” might not be appropriate, because if you’re Jewish (or Islamic) those religions date the year by a lunar calendar so the date of 2010 could be considered inaccurate — even if the entire world schedules life around that number.

This got me to thinking how I don’t know what to say to someone who is Islamic or Hindu or Buddhist, and what a narrow world we live in (even in New York) that the right greeting wouldn’t just casually come to mind. So, I asked around, and, then got an email from a Muslim friend from Pakistan who sent: “Wishing you a wonderful and happy new year.” And a Hindu friend of my son’s said basically: “Just say Merry Christmas. We’re a very inclusive culture.”

So to all, let me just say:

May the positive spirit of a new year stay with you throughout the next 365 days. And beyond.


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News to Know

It may not be your gluttonous ways that make you fat (but it is your diet).

According to a recent study “Western diets turn on fat genes,”* having a diet high in fat and sugar turns on fat-storing genes that makes your body store too much fat. Called the kappa opiod receptor (connected to your body’s metabolism), it is stimulated by fatty sugary foods and is the culprit that keeps our fat locked inside our bodies.

The test was conducted on two groups of mice. One group had the receptor deactivated while the other group remained normal. After eating a diet high in sugar and fat for 16 weeks, the control group gained far more weight than the deactivated kappa opioid receptor group, but this deactivated group also was not able to store as many nutrients.

What a cruel adaptation. Or is it? Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB** Journal Gerald Weissmann says, “In times when food was scarce and starvation an ever-present threat, an adaptation that allows our bodies to store as much energy as possible during plentiful times was probably a lifesaver.”

Lifesaver then, maybe, but now it’s just a fat-saver. Wouldn’t it be great if we had an evolutionary adaptation that boosted our metabolism during the holidays?!


*Physorg.com, “Western diets turn on fat genes,” November 30, 2009

** Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

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Fashion & Beauty Secret's Service

Everyone seems to be shopping Zappos.com …

Two things seem to be shaping up as trends for this season’s shopping tradition: Saving money and spending discreetly — reasons online shopping is doing well.

We thought we’d heard of all the sites, but in the last few days three different people mentioned how much they love Zappos.com. And The New York Times wrote about it, too.  Thus, we introduce Zappo’s to you, we mean,  if you don’t already know about it!

Zappo’s was recently acquired by Amazon and has been an online stop for great deals on designer shoes for some time, but you’ll also find everything from brand name accessories and fragrances to clothes and exercise gear. Check out the different brands they offer on their site here. It’s a long list! Not much for online shopping? Zappo’s has become so popular they’ll also be mailing a printed catalog to their customers” their third this year.

Christmas shopping has never been so easy (or inexpensive). Maybe even a recession can have a silver lining :-).

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Food, Fitness & Health

Keep it or toss it? The ultimate food shelf life guide …

Is it okay to put hot food directly into the fridge? Are eggs still safe after the expiration date? Should you even pay attention to expiration dates?  How long will thawed ground beef remain safe? And other questions you’ve always wanted answered …

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