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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Merry Christmas or Bah Humbug!

It’s THAT time of year again. You know the one where everyone is full of love and kindness, hope and dreams, and, let’s not forget, jolly laughter. Instead of saying “Have a nice day,” you now hear “Have a Merry Christmas!” Those politically correct will say “Happy Holidays!” But for many of us, we just go with the flow while the words repeated in our heads are “Just let me get through this.”

Christmas and the holiday season is not always a joyful time in some of our lives. We go through the motions, such as buying the gifts, sending the cards, making the cookies and kissing under the mistletoe. We’d rather be curled up on the sofa with the dog, cat and a good book with the sounds of “Hotel California” coming from the stereo. No tree, gifts, egg nog, or any other such reminders of the season.

It may seem a bit harsh to the hardy, enthusiastic holiday lovers, but many people just want to be left alone. These are the people who have found themselves in a position of being alone during the season. Or they may as well be alone because they are attached to an alcoholic who manages to destroy every holiday on the calendar.

Some of the gifts an alcoholic may give loved ones would be, falling into the Christmas tree and breaking most of the ornaments and gifts; spiking the egg nog to the point where you can’t have a candle next to the punch bowl for fear of catching the entire block on fire; going to the store for a loaf of bread and never returning or, even worse, having an accident; getting into arguments with other family members because the alcoholic doesn’t like the color of someone’s shirt; and then, there one of my particular favorites – his mistress shows up at the front door baring gifts for the alcoholic’s wife and kids. (Really! That happened to me!)

Fortunately, I am no longer in a position where Riley’s drinking can ruin my holiday. But, the memories remain and while others are reminiscing their holidays past, I must reach deep to find holidays that are worth remembering.

When I was living alone and was 3,000 miles from my kids, I preferred to celebrate by myself without the Christmas fanfare. It was less painful then going to parties and dinners and watching happy couples and gleaming kids’ faces.

Now that I’m living closer to the kids and their kids, I still don’t do much over the holidays. I sit back and watch as my daughter and grand-daughter-in-law take the lead and do the planning, cooking, etc. I enjoy the view. After all the years of being the organizer and the one who sees it through, I rather like not having the responsibility.
Sometimes, back when I was alone for Christmas, I still wanted to feel that feeling of giving to others. I volunteered at a soup kitchen on Christmas day. I mended coats to be given to those who had none. I wrote letters from Santa and made phone calls to children on Christmas Eve while playing the part of Mrs. Claus. I went to Christmas plays and sang carols in the shower. All that soothed the open wound of being alone at Christmas.

I don’t really hate this season but I’m not in love with it. I’m not one of those people who count the days from Independence Day to December 25th. I just let it happen and go with whatever the kids want.

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Christmas can be a very depressing time. If you find that you fit that description, you can go into hibernation from December 24-25th. Plan for it. Shop for it. Look forward to it. Get some DVDs of your favorite non-holiday movies and the same for music. If you make it an event to welcome, you will find you may not be so depressed. You could invite other non-holiday revelers to share your celebration of not celebrating.

If you are still in a Christmas mood, you could try doing some of the things that I did, like serving in a soup kitchen. It might make things easier for a little while. Then you can go back to mumbling “Bah Humbug!”

Whatever you do, just remember it’s only a couple days and then it’s over. It’s temporary, so don’t make a permanent decision around a temporary situation.

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Steph said...

And here I was feeling guilty because I could care less. This year I finally said no to the holidays. Didn't decorate, no tree, no gifts. Can't wait until it's over. Christmas used to be my favorite time of year and after dealing with a self absorbed, rude, "it's all about me individual" for several years I just don't have it in me. One day it will be different but not right now.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree, just hanging out with my two dogs and ignoring the hoopla. People simply do not understand when you have to deal with a constantly passed out , unmotivated, or angry drunk!