A few days ago, I had to have a tough conversation with the kids. I had to explain that most likely Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the usual festive gathering, filled with the laughter of our huge Italian family. Their reluctance and immediate imaginative solutions warmed my heart but also ignited the reality of this COVID-era we are living in. As an alcoholic in recovery, I am missing human connection, fellowship, and normalcy. I can only imagine how my two little ones must feel.
Staring wide-eyed at the unprecedented holiday season, I can’t help but wonder how I can adapt our celebrations in a meaningful way while also keeping my sobriety number one. Sure, I am grateful for technological advancements that keep us connected but Zoom meetings just don’t cut it for us. Pondering this post-apocalyptic climate, we are living in, I started to really think about the “reason for the season”. Outside of this time of year being a season of giving, I know how important establishing traditions that keep up with the times truly is. We are all going through this together and sobriety has taught me to practice radical acceptance in all of my affairs. Here are a few tips on establishing new traditions for this holiday season while maintaining your sobriety.
Find and maintain a purpose this holiday season.
When we seek to build new traditions, we typically follow routines. Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics are definitely creatures of habit – we tend to thrive in ritualistic activities. We tend to gravitate towards doing the same things over and over again, each year. This habitual practice often cultivates a connection between multiple generations, especially during the holidays. Maybe you make the same dinner, put on the same movie, and brew up hot chocolate while you and the kids decorate the tree every year. This simple ritual can add meaning to both you and the ones you love during the holiday season.
Personalize your traditions.
Establishing new, sober traditions this holiday season is a way to connect you and your loved ones while allowing them to partake in the festivities. Sure, we may not be able to gather with all of our loved ones, but we can be creative and personalize our new traditions. Maybe you have a family game night and play over Zoom – basking in the giggles of your favorite humans. Maybe you buy silly matching PJ’s and send out “Wish You Were Here” postcards to your extended family, in lieu of the social distancing era. No matter what imaginative and creative tradition you implement this holiday season – it’s always best to personalize it to capture the true essence of you and your loved ones.
Don’t forget your favorite childhood traditions.
Many of us in recovery miss the innocence of a childhood filled with fewer worries and responsibilities. Nostalgia can be good for the soul. It’s okay and quite possibly beneficial to tap back into the joyful moments of your childhood. Remembering the fun times you experienced as a child can help lead to building new traditions. Thanksgiving and Christmas are filled with traditions and can make walking into this COVID-ridden holiday season a challenge. Many of us won’t have the opportunity to be surrounded by the warm hugs and smiles of our family members but that doesn’t mean we cannot recreate some of our favorite pastimes with the ones we get to spend the holiday with.
Adapt to the times
Families across the globe are all facing the struggles of social distancing and minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19. Those of us in recovery thrive in structure, routine, and fellowship with the people we love the most. As much as we love our traditional holiday festivities, the new adjustments can be as fun as we allow them to be. New traditions and adapting to the current climate of things don’t have to be stressful, instead, we should take this time to adjust to the new memories we get to create with our loved ones.
Increase your support.
The holidays can be an extremely vulnerable time for anyone – especially for people in recovery. We all can get overwhelmed with the erratic and unpredictable nature of this isolated season. You may not be able to gather with a group of your sober support, but this may mean you should make it a point to call your sober support each and every day, if you are keeping things low key for the holidays, it might not be a bad idea to invite a sober friend over to spend the holidays with you. Zoom meetings are alive and well, if you need extra support, be sure to catch a zoom meeting and get some numbers from other people in recovery.
‘Tis the Season to Be of Service
Whether you have been in recovery for a long time or are new to the whole sobriety thing, I’m sure you know that when we are of service to others we naturally find more joy and gratitude. A great way to stay sober and find happiness during this difficult holiday season is to find ways to help others. Maybe you can make a family recipe to deliver to some of your friends who will be alone for the holidays. Donate old toys, clothes, or food to a family in need this holiday season. Pick up the phone and call another alcoholic or addict and ask how they are doing. These spiritual opportunities allow up to capitalize on the beauty of this season – coronavirus or no coronavirus, there is always space to help others. ‘Tis the season to find a way to get outside of yourself and help someone else.