Monday, 10 November 2014

Holidays and Holidaze

     Since I first got clean, people have been complaining and whining about "the holidays." I did too. At some point, I got over it but a few others perhaps did not. Recovery is as easy or as hard as we make it. 

     Here are some things you can do in order to not have meltdowns over a time of year that can be enjoyed or ignored rather than feared:

1. If you don't like a holiday or don't think you can manage to stay abstinent/ clean/ dry/ sober, then cancel it.
     * Not recommended if you have children. *
You can always visit the relatives the day after for leftovers.

My best Thanksgiving was the one I spent in the woods with my dogs and a couple of hiking buddies. For a meal, we heated up cans of turkey vegetable soup in a fire that we built in the snow.

2. You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or other place that is serving meals to those who need one. This just may get you out of yourself long enough to understand that not everything ought to be about you now that you are in recovery. You can take a newcomer with you to volunteer.

My elderly father volunteered in a soup kitchen on Christmas one year. He has Lewy Body Dementia but at that time he was able to manage being a volunteer for the day. He enjoyed himself immensely.

3. You can ask to work so that some other co-worker can have the day off.

I have specifically asked to work holidays and I enjoy doing it. This is another way of giving.

4. You can go Christmas caroling around the neighborhood or sign up to visit a nursing home or hospital on a holiday. Bringing in a simple program-- story-telling or singing-- is much appreciated there. You can take a newcomer with you.

A bunch of acquaintances and I did this one year in several neighborhoods. We had loads of fun. No one turned us away.

5. If someone wishes you a "Merry Christmas" and you celebrate something else or nothing, it really does not hurt you to wish them a "Merry Christmas." Same goes for Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, and Saturnalia. Recognizing people in the ways that they wish to be recognized does not diminish you as a human being.

I am an atheist and I do this. (I understand that some people will boycott stores whose employees are required to say "Merry Christmas." That is a matter of choice). Not everything that people say to each other has to be perceived of or ought to be perceived of as a personal affront.

6. You can go to a meeting if that is something you do for your recovery. You can take a newcomer with you. 

For those who attend meetings, why not? 

7. You can go to a clubhouse or other place that has an alkathon or narathon. You will find meetings there. Maybe even some food, games, and friendly faces. You can take a newcomer with you.

I've spent several Thanksgivings and Christmases doing this and I had a blast.

8. Instead of worrying that your Thanksgiving or Christmas will not be perfect, you can participate in a food or clothing or toy drive in your neighborhood. Instead of buying presents for other adults, you can give stuff away to the less fortunate. If you have your own computer, you probably have an extra coat or sweater kicking around in your closet. Or you can host your own dinner and invite people who don't have a place to go for the day.

Dad taught me early on to pick out gently used toys for the kids in a local orphanage. Yes, it is wonderful to be able to give to others instead of focusing on my hang-ups or have nervous attacks over something that is supposed to be fun.

9. If you decide to brave being with family or friends who are not in recovery, you can grab a cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate or a combination of cranberry and orange juice warmed up in a microwave) instead of relapsing. You can also make an excuse and leave if you really must. You can call your sponsor or someone else in the rooms.

A cup of coffee reminds me of my recovery because I first started drinking coffee in recovery.

10. You can start your own traditions.

sapphoq itching for a coffee says: At all times, it helps me to remember why I am doing whatever I am doing. This includes family gatherings at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other times of the year. When I get self-absorbed, I forget that not everything is "all about me." Because it really isn't. Just saying.

Thanks to #AddictionChat on Twitter for an excellent discussion about the holidays last Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST.

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