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Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:17 am
by MyNameIsBetsy
I'm Betsy, an alcoholic. Grateful to be sober today.

The calendar has turned to November. The first holiday ads already are on the TV. The stores are selling everything Christmas and it is barely past Halloween! The holiday season with all it's eggnog, pretty colors, special food, united families, and holiday cheer is here! Let's start a thread about how to survive the holidays while staying sober.

There is BIG TIME marketing hype this time of year. Most marketing is generated by retailers enticing us to purchase the perfect gift, clothing, home decorations, food, etc. We get bombarded with images of multi-generation families sitting happily at a fancy dinner, featuring a perfectly cooked turkey in the middle of a beautifully decorated table. There is lots of laughter, glasses clinking (we notice those, don't we?), and the ads play to our emotions.

Many of us don't have close family experiences. We tend to measure ourselves against marketing images. So what do we do, especially what does the newly sober person do?

I felt a lot of feelings my first holiday season sober. I wanted to be normal, to participate in those festivities, but did not want to jeopardize my sobriety. An additional complication was my mother was in the midst of her dementia and lived thousands of miles away. My thoughts were with my mother and I hurt. My emotions were all over the place!

I had six months of sobriety at my first sober holiday season. I hung close to AA, and recited "One Day at a Time" as my personal mantra. I busied myself with local activities, and increased my exercise routines to burn off anxiety. I took a hard look at those TV commercials and analyzed how they played on my emotions to sell me stuff. I dug my heels in and endured some hours (being honest here), yet celebrated others. I looked for new experiences and opportunities to be grateful . . or to opportunity to help others. I tried very hard not to get caught up in all the hype, but to focus on what was in front of me each day. I cherished the invitations of friends who included me in their plans. I focused on my work and occupied my brain with professional challenges. I tried to separate the commercial holiday celebration from the religious Christmas celebration.

I survived that first sober holiday season, some days better than others. When December 25th finally arrived, I was relieved that all the hype would now settle down. That first sober year gave me my own personal experiences from which to draw in subsequent years. I now know I can stay sober over Christmas festivities because I have now done it before! Another victory!

What are your tips for surviving the season with sobriety intact? How do you handle the holidays? What suggestions do you have to offer someone who is experiencing their first stressful holiday season without alcohol? What experiences do you have to offer someone new and anxiously looking ahead to the marketing blast we are all going to experience in these next few weeks?

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 12:31 pm
by PaigeB
Christmas my first year I was a raging maniac. I couldn't leave the family home for a real fear I would drive straight to the store and drink. All of this was caused by - sugar free jello. Let that sink in.

I had to throw my family out - I sent them to the movies early and without me. I got my list of phone numbers and called and called until I reached someone. SHE was on a desolate highway travelling to family in Nebraska. She said she would also make some calls and see if she could get someone to call me back. I kept calling and got answering machines for the most part. But soon my phone rang and it was a gal from my home group. She happened to be at the store very close to my house. SHE SAID SHE WOULD COME to me! And she did. In moments she arrived - on crutches... on my icy drive way. I forgot she had hip surgery! I ran out to help her get up the drive and up the steps. She had abandoned her cart at the store. She delayed her preparation for her own family festivities. She came to talk to me until I cooled off - until my thoughts had turned away from my own irrational ideas and feelings and toward helping others and moving forward with a positive attitude.

What happened while she was there is somewhat unremarkable. We talked about HER family - newly reunited after years of drinking separated them.... But It was her willingness to serve NO MATTER WHAT that taught me how to behave when AA calls us to serve.

You can survive the Holidays if you hang with your sober friends at Alkathons and candlelight meetings and special dinners. Or you can pick up the phone and dial until you reach someone!

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:32 pm
by avaneesh912
I feel if the candidate has the deep desire to survive, he is going to survive the holidays. Alkathons or Sober parties at other friends house give them options to spend time not worried about being sucked into drinking. I would say now, after being sober for quite sometime and having worked with a few, I would help the newcomer by taking them through the steps quickly so they know what they are up against so they can make some conscious decision on what they can do around holidays. If he/she is getting some annoying family visit, they can be cautious.

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 6:32 pm
by davep54
Christmas can be just another time to apply living in a 24 hour compartment; on wakening, throughout the day, upon retiring etc. Your HP will keep you restored to sanity if you ask Him each morning.

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 9:21 pm
by D'oh
I have been there, for a Wedding I had to Stand Up my Brother's, I was dreading this for months Newly Sober. I even attended a Practice Wedding a couple of months before and was home in bed by 9:00.

My Brother's came and went, I never thought of drinking and even helped clean up afterwards. Point being, Living Today, Tomorrow will be looked after. Months of worrying for Nothing!

The Big Book describes "If alcohol is a problem, throw our selfies harder in helping other Alcoholics." Maybe arrange X Mas Eve Meeting. Others might be just as worried as you are.

And, just remember, You can still be the Life of the Party, Faith can replace Fear, The Fear alcohol use to cover up, until we made an ass of ourselves.

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Sat Nov 16, 2019 10:52 am
by Daelynn
One time many years ago I spent part of the holidays at a cabin with a bunch of other people who were trying quit drinking or quit something. I remember on a bright night we all went sledding down this big hill. Its was some of the most fun I've ever had as a grown up.

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Sat Nov 16, 2019 11:17 am
by BA Lodi
My Home Group hosted alkathons for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. For the first few years, I either attended the alkathon for a couple of hours and/or helped chair or do other service work. I baked for family and for alkathons. Early on, they were some of the best holidays I ever had! My soon-to-be X didn't appreciate it, but other family members understood. Thanks again, AA! This topic was a good reminder for me!

Rocking along, Barbara D, alcoholic.

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 7:24 am
by Db1105
My last drink was on December 24. My first day sober was December 25, 1977. It's pretty simple, Don't pick up the first drink, work the 12 Steps, and be of service to others. It hasn't let me down yet.

Re: Surviving the Holidays

Posted: Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:55 am
by D'oh
One Day at a Time.

What ever it means (as some discuss on here) doesn't mean Christmas 2023, Your 55th Birthday, July 4th 2028.

Focus on Today, and there should be No Fear of Tomorrow, and at the same time, No Regrets of Yesterday.