sober holidays Tag

Peace after chaos.  Peace at the holidays.  It has been years since our family felt peace and the excitement of looking forward to family time at the holidays. This year with both of my boys embracing sobriety, we have peace and it feels amazing.

This year marks another holiday season in recovery that I'm getting to experience. As I got to New Life House just one short week before Thanksgiving initially, my first time through the holidays in recovery was awkward, uncomfortable and unnerving to say the least. But before then I was reluctant to even be present.

As a child, my holidays were magical.  I grew up with a grandmother who knew how to turn her house into a Christmas fairytale.  We spent hours making Gingerbread houses from scratch (no joke), decorating tables as a Christmas wonderland – fake houses, streets, people and snow- and only went to tree lots that allowed us to cut down a fresh tree.  

As long as I can remember, Christmas time was the highlight of my childhood, as the anticipation of a magical morning came slowly from expectation to reality. My parents always had the fireplace lit, a special treat and a multitude of presents for us each year.

In the last few years of my active addiction I was incapable of truly experiencing the spirit and love that binds people together during the holiday season. There were several holiday occasions when I was either in a blackout or so completely captivated by the desire to use that I could not show up for any of my family or the people around me. I used family get togethers or just the simple idea that it was “that special time of the year,” to justify my behaviors and do what I wanted. There was never an inspiration to enjoy the company of family and friends, or the sharing of thanks for my blessings and the beauty of life.

Holidays in the past were always a chore; a burden that took too long to get through. I would come home from college with the intention of getting the most I could out of my family and the time spent in my hometown. The goal was not to show up for my family but to receive gifts, see some old friends, and try to avoid my family as much as possible.

Ever since I can remember I had a really fun time during the holidays and I always had a nice time spending it with my family. I remember being little; I would go to Iowa to spend Thanksgiving at my grand parents house and hang out with my entire family.

Sober holidays are much different than plowing through the family festivities drunk. New Life House member, Sam, shares his experiences past and present.