The first Christmas I can remember I was three or four, and it was called Christmas in our God-fearing Christian home. That was before my brother told us there was no such thing as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.
My oldest sister gave me a silver bracelet. We were poor and didn’t have a lot of luxuries. I thought she was glamorous and I had never seen anything more beautiful. I had that bracelet for years.
After I started drinking, a lot of years blur together. I always had the best of intentions stocking the liquor cabinet at the start of December. You’d think I’d learn. First, I didn’t have a liquor cabinet. I mean, what was the point. I drank everything in sight. Then, by the time the holidays rolled around I’d be close to the wet brain and massively broke and hungover.
Not all Cultures and Religions Celebrate Christmas
Not all cultures and religions celebrate Christmas. However, nobody is immune to the onslaught of triggers this time of year. Thinking about getting sober, newly sober, or even in recovery after many years, holidays can be tricky.
I have provided some strategies for common issues people in and out of recovery struggle with.
At the end, I have also included some FREE Resources to help you create new traditions, if you wish.
Getting Through the Holidays
- FAMILY. You feel all grown up until you are around your family and then you are six. In those moments, remind yourself, “This too shall pass.” I’m fine today around my family and I can assure you that none of them have changed. 😊
- MISSING FAMILY. Some people aren’t in touch with family members. Others have lost family members. Don’t find yourself all alone this year. Reach out. Surround yourself with loved ones or others that you consider family. Honour the spirit of those who have passed on and carry them with you throughout the day by staying sober.
- LONELINESS. The emptiness and loneliness that people in recovery experience can become more pervasive during something as hyped up as the Holiday season. Again, don’t find yourself alone on Christmas Day. Start checking out your different options and plan something NOW.
- BEING BROKE. Create new traditions around the holidays that don’t involve consumerism. Make cards and homemade gifts with your kids. Sponsor a family. If you are single, consider volunteering with a charity organization in your community. Help serve Christmas dinner to the homeless.
- PARTIES. Have a safety plan when you go out where alcohol is being served. Bring your own beverage and pour it in a fancy glass. Don’t put your drink down or let it out of your sight. People won’t ask you about drinking if you already have one in your hand. Be the designated driver. Have someone you can phone in case you need support. Leave if you need to.
Reflect on What’s Important
My early years in recovery were insane dealing with my teenage son and his crack-cocaine addiction. Consequently, Christmas was unpredictable.
I was around ten years sober when Cole got clean. That was shortly after the birth of his daughter; before she was apprehended by Children’s Services.
The three of us were downtown Victoria waiting for the Santa Claus parade. Everyone was in a great mood dipping in and out of shops, eating Gingerbread cookies, and sipping Peppermint Hot Chocolate. It was a rare moment when my stomach wasn’t in a knot worrying about Cole being dead or alive.
Cole was carrying the baby. Crowds of people milled about. People were holding hands, children were gently bumping into one another, and everyone was talking and laughing. When the parade began, we squeezed into a spot on the sidewalk close to the road. Cole nudged in closer so that Tessa had a clear view.
I got caught up in the atmosphere of the moment. The magic. The sparkling lights. All the colours. The festivity. I stepped back into a shop doorway; absorbed in the moment. I was in awe. It felt like a miracle that we were here together, our broken little family.
Cole bounced Tessa up and down on his bony hip, her chubby arms wrapped around his neck. The expression, “There but for the Grace of God,” went through my head. I flashed back to another time when I ached with a constant emptiness. I deeply longed to be connected with others but didn’t know how and there it was.
It struck me how profound the moment was.
Simple, yet profound.
This year, contemplate on what’s important to you over the holiday season!
And keep safe!!
USE THESE FREE RESOURCES TO HELP YOU DEVELOP NEW HOLIDAY TRADITIONS
IDEAS FOR MOCKTAILS
IDEAS FOR FREE CHRISTMAS MUSIC
8 CLASSIC CHRISTMAS MOVIES AVAILABLE ONLINE
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965). Repelled by the commercialism he sees around him, Charlie Brown tries to find the true meaning of Christmas.
2. Miracle on 34th Street (1947). When a nice old man who claims to be Santa Claus is institutionalized as insane, a young lawyer decides to defend him by arguing in court that he is the real thing.
3. Scrooge, A Christmas Carol (1951). An old bitter miser is given a chance for redemption when he is haunted by three ghosts on Christmas Eve.
4. Elf (2003). After inadvertently wreaking havoc on the elf community due to his ungainly size, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole is sent to the U.S. in search of his true identity.
5. A Christmas Story (1983). In the 1940s, a young boy named Ralphie attempts to convince his parents, his teacher, and Santa that a Red Ryder B.B. gun really is the perfect Christmas gift.
6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). Jack Skellington, King of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion.
7. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). On the outskirts of Whoville, there lives a green, revenge-seeking Grinch who plans on ruining the Christmas holiday for all the citizens of the town.
8. Home Alone (1990). An eight-year old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation.
YOUR NEW HOLIDAY PLAYLIST
CREATE YOUR OWN CHRISTMAS CARDS
If you enjoyed reading this and are not currently a subscriber, sign up to ensure you receive my next blog post in your inbox. I WOULD BE INTERESTED TO KNOW IF YOU FOUND THE RESOURCE LINKS HELPFUL.
P.S. Share your thoughts and comments below. If you prefer, you may email me in confidence.~Jan