During the holiday season, there is no doubt that it is tough being an Alcoholic. Lurking around every corner are advertisements for liquors, happy smiling hugging people enjoying life in Christmas cheer, accented by a touch of intoxication. On the home front, every holiday meal is served with a glass of wine, and a glass of eggnog or brandy to create a warm mellow atmosphere. And while surrounded by holiday spirits, there is so much temptation, so much pleasant nostalgia that seems to be gift wrapping the cobwebbed dusty memories of the last drink.
As alcoholics, we are taught to steer clear of temptation. To not put ourselves in places where our judgment and the decision-making of our higher power can be easily compromised. We immediately understand that we are to avoid the saloon and the pub, but what about the homestead? Some of us are drawn to the loving family atmosphere, the smell of fresh baking cookies, the warmth from the stoked hearth, and the pretty packages piled high with glittering wrapping paper. And some of us are wary of the judgmental looks from uncles and aunts, the new locks on doors and cabinets, the apparent lack of table wine or evening cider (or anything stronger than milk for that matter), and the looming uneasiness from siblings. On this holiday season, do we choose to be a part of, or apart from?
When the founders of AA set out to form the framework for the recovery institution, the main goal was not to sympathetically care for the abandoned and the downtrodden, those burdened by the disease of alcoholism. It was to teach a new way of living, to lift up, and give us avenues of assimilation. When we talk about recovery, we strive towards a path of healing that teaches us to find a means to better relate to the world around us. When we say we are alcoholics, it is not to separate us, to cordon us off, make us distinct and different. We are not in the business of creating a race of sober supermen, nor do we expect special treatment, babying, or patronizing. Though we have a disease, it urges us to be deeply in touch with our spiritual, physical, and mental well-being.
This holiday season, we must choose to be a part of. We did not get sober to be lonely, and we certainly must not use our new found lifestyle as a means of separation. We must approach every holiday function with open arms and a grain of salt. We must be wary of the voices in our heads, telling that one sip is okay, and we must be understanding if those around us are still tainted by the wreckage of our pasts. If we feel ourselves building resentment, a quick call to a sponsor or a sober chum is in order. We choose water over wine with the ease that the vegetarian chooses salad over steak. We acknowledge that though this year things are different, it doesn’t necessarily mean we cannot start new traditions. The serenity prayer tells us to accept the things we cannot change, like our families, our friends, the world, around us, and our disease. It also says to change the things we can, like acting in a manner of esteem and positivity, to show all those, especially ourselves that this is a time of new beginnings.