I always wanted a Folger’s coffee or Hallmark card commercial holiday. I believed the hype and thought that’s the way it was supposed to be. So, I put myself and my family up to that expectation. We both failed miserably.

As I gained more sobriety, the truth about my childhood started to come out. The memories and the realities I drank through (or tried to cover up) all came to the surface. A lot of times I thought were happy family memories turned out to be pretty damn ugly. Real shit shows. I started to remember that the holidays were not only NOT happy…they brought out the WORST in people.

As it turns out, the term “Happy Holidays” was not true for me until I had some years in sobriety. I wanted it to be different and I felt really guilty that I couldn’t MAKE the holidays different. I thought if I had a good spiritual condition and “worked my Program” that I would have enough gratitude to MAKE the holidays happy. Well, the ghosts of holidays-past and trying to navigate my way through the family alcoholics and personality disorders of holidays-present challenged my new sobriety and immature coping skills to where I couldn’t ENJOY myself.

It wasn’t until I matured; learned what boundaries were and applied them; established a spiritual practice; “applied these principles in all my affairs”; moved far away from my abuser and the constant horrifying choice between her and the family I loved so much; and created a family of my own; that I started to learn the meaning of “Happy Holidays”.

The biggest thing I want to remember – and I want to impart on anyone reading this post – is that there is NO SHAME OR GUILT IN NOT HAVING A “HAPPY HOLIDAY”!!! FUCK THAT!!! If you’re new to sobriety, be grateful you make it through the day sober!! Who cares if it’s Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Years, or a Wednesday. Just take it one day/hour/minute at a time and do whatever you need to do to maintain your sobriety.

Here are some things myself and others have done to stay sober through the holidays:

  • Always have an escape plan wherever you plan on going. For example, if you are going to a holiday party, make sure you park your car where you can easily get out at any time you want. That way, if people start drinking too much and you want to leave, you can get in your car and go without having to ask anyone to move their car.
  • Have a list of phone numbers to call with you when you go to any holiday gathering and BE READY TO CALL THEM ALL IF YOU NEED TO! I was stuck at a party 3 hours from home one Christmas. Things got wacky with the family. I went out to the car and called a few people on the list until the people inside started going to bed. Crisis averted!
  • Find out where meetings will be in the area where you will be going. Nothing better than ditching a drunk fest for a meeting! Some of the BEST meetings I’ve gone to have been on a holiday! If you don’t find one in-person – there are always meetings online. OR, you could listen to some podcasts.
  • Take a sober buddy with you. (This is also fun because then you have someone to share stories with later!)
  • Make a plan with a friend, sponsor, and/or sober buddy regarding what you’re going to be doing before, during, and after each holiday event so that you can feel prepared for any shit that might come at you out of nowhere. Family members can sabotage our progress and really fuck with our heads!
  • Limit the amount of time you’re going to be at any holiday event. History has taught you when people start to get really wasted. Don’t stay to see that. Sure, they’ll get pissed at you. So what! Tell them to go have another beer and get over it. You’ve got somewhere else to be and get out of there! Yes, IT IS HARD TO CHANGE OLD PATTERNS! But, it is even harder to come back from a relapse (if you’re lucky enough to come back…)
  • Don’t make any holiday commitments/promises without checking it out with your sponsor or a trusted sober friend first. Why set yourself up for failure or relapse? Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Okay… that’s all I got. If you have any ideas you would like to add, please write your ideas in the comment box below. You could help someone stay sober. Thanks so much!

I look forward to seeing you on Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook and I am so grateful that you have visited me here today.

I am wishing you Sober Holidays 🙂

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