Growing up, my family always had a lot of holiday traditions, and most of my life I really enjoyed them. Whether that was choosing and decorating the Christmas tree together as a family, or going to downtown Chicago and ice skating every year, the holidays were always a time in which my family would come together. As I continued deeper into my addiction I grew more and more distant from my family and was much less interested in these family traditions. I was either not physically present, or I was there but not involved in the family dynamic. I realized this lack of connection and started to feel a lot of guilt and shame for being the ‘black sheep of the family’. I was aware of the fact that my life had taken a much different road than the rest of my family, and that because of the life I had embarked upon and the experiences I had in active addiction I felt disconnected from my family. I also remember feeling very judged by grandparents and cousins for the way I was living my life whenever I would show up at family gatherings (rightfully so). It was hard for me to be present during these family traditions because of these things so I just wouldn’t show up anymore. When I got sober a lot of this negativity and sense of impending doom was transformed into hope and so a lot of this guilt and shame disappeared. Being sober for Christmas for the first time last year was an amazing experience. I felt comfortable and present being with my family at the house because I felt our paths in life were now aligned. I was taking the first steps towards a good life just as they had been in their lives. I also felt comfortable in my own skin for the first time in a very long time which made it that much easier for me to be present with my family. That sense of tradition that I always had with my family seemed to be back but in a different way. In a new way because rather than the family tradition it was now the New Life tradition which was just as great. This year I am going back home to Chicago for Christmas and will be spending the holiday in the snow. I am very excited to see what old and new traditions are in store for the holidays this year and I am excited to continue to build upon my relationships with my family. At this point in my sobriety, I could not be more grateful for this house and these guys because without it I would never have been able to work through that guilt and shame and work towards building a relationship with my family.