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Creating New Holiday Traditions Joyfully Sober
Sober Christmas 2020? If you are in your first year sober you may be looking ahead to the holiday season with a bit of dread and trepidation. Alcohol temptations are everywhere at this time of year from the shopping mall, to the television, to the dining room. Decorating, cooking, shopping, planning – everything can be a trigger. Staying sober from Thanksgiving to New Years can be a challenge even if you stopped drinking months before, and this year, with the pandemic and all it brings, will likely be a bigger sober challenge than usual. But I remember why I actually dove into this whole sober thing just after the New Year 2019 and it was entirely because of experiencing the holidays without alcohol. In 2018 at Christmas time I was unexpectedly, joyfully sober. Joy is in short supply this year and I don’t want to ruin the chance of experiencing what little joy the year might hold with alcohol. So I will stay happily alcohol-free.
To ease your way through the holiday festivities without losing your sober momentum start by imagining you cannot drink.
My 2018 Christmas was spent with my husband’s family. They are not drinkers. It’s a moral issue for them. No one drinks. So whenever there, we do not drink either. Our usual strategy had been to avoid spending time with them (not just because of the alcohol, but you know…..) But 2018 was different. We decided we needed to spend time with them and we drove down to spend four or five days at the family homestead. One of the things I have noticed about spending time with them over the years is that because no one drinks, they do lots of other things. We do crazy crazy extreme craft things (in 2018 the older kids built a silk screen and silk screened sweaters), have scavenger hunts in the woods that involve golf carts, do wacky and silly games around gift exchanges, go ice skating, eat ice cream, sing, talk, play games, etc. In other words, instead of sitting around drinking, we actually dostuff. And much to my surprise, in 2018 I had a great Christmas. It was fun, it was relaxing, and I did stuff I never would have done.
Create new non-drinking traditions.
Fast forward to 2019 with a no alcohol Christmas with my family ( no one drinks at my family house because everyone has officially dried out except one). I came from a family, where holidays were really about the adults sitting around drinking and smoking. We hadn’t developed any other activities. But I decided we needed some fun to look forward to for the 2019 Christmas. I put some thought into it and The Reindeer Olympic Games were born. Silly things really, that got us all together to do something. Think Blindfold one handed christmas cookie decorations, riddles to find out where some presents are hid, make up and rap your own Christmas carol, etc. The teenagers rolled their eyes but played along and finally got into the event where we got to take a BB gun out to the back yard and do target practice with old Christmas ornaments, we had purchased the day before at Goodwill. It was memorable. No one drank. We all had fun. My old dad laughed so hard tears were running down his face. And he’s not that fun of a guy.
Celebrate your love even from a distance because that is what this season is about.
This is the beginning of my third sober Holiday Season and today I’m feeling sad. I am feeling sad because I was supposed to get on an airplane today and fly home to the US to see my ailing mother and father. This will very likely be my mother’s last Thanksgiving. And my father is not far behind. When I choke up with tears, I remind myself that this is life. This is what is supposed to happen – our parents die before us. Moreover, they are together, and still in love, and dying on their own terms. Even though my mother doesn’t remember who my father is she still tells me how much she loves the cute guy who keeps hanging around her house and cooking for her.
I’m not getting on an airplane today. And I won’t get on one at Christmas time. It’s not safe. Not safe for them and not safe for me and definitely against the Covid guidelines. So, I will stay here.
Now I’m looking ahead to Christmas 2020. I will be alone with just my little family. We are going to do something. I just don’t know what it is yet. I do know I am not going to touch alcohol though. It’s not just because I’ll be two years sober in January but because for me, the holidays feel better, feel more meaningful, feel more precious, when I am sober. I can actually feel the holiday experience as opposed to just feeling tired, hungover, stressed and burnt out. I know its hard to believe this if you haven’t done it. But now that I’ve experienced alcohol free holidays I don’t think there is a way you could convince me to go back. Let others drink their holidays away. I’m holding mine close. Joy is in short supply this year and I don’t want to ruin the chance of experiencing what little joy the year might hold with alcohol. Because really, alcohol just kind of ruins the meaningful moments – keeps us locked away from them.
And if anyone has any ideas for the 2020 Reindeer Olympic games……..send them my way.
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