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15 Steps to Get You Through Your Very First SOBER Christmas

A Guide for the Newly Sober over the Holiday Season

Photo by Matthew Henry 

  1. Drink non-alcoholic drinks like an addict—also known as "Sugar Crushing". Juice, soda, more juice. 

  2. Avoid most parties. Get comfortable with feeling lonely and weird at home in your sweatpants.

  3. Force yourself to go to a party, because you’re starting to feel sorry for yourself. Resist the urge to talk about your sweatpants and your cat. 
  4. Pull your "awkward happy face" when people look at you and ask you why you are so quiet. 
  5. Resist the urge to whisper "fuck you" quietly to yourself when they walk away. If you must, whisper it quietly. 
If needed, practice saying “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME” in the upstairs bathroom.
  6. At family events, take MANY breaks in the kitchen pantry, and practice deep breathing to soothe the cutting remarks & comments from family members about your career choice and lack of children. 
  7. Resist the urge to steal and consume the shared box of red wine set up in the family dining room. If needed, take a long, deep sniff of your sister-in-laws glass of chardonnay. 
  8. Carb load like crazy. Breads, cookies, more breads. 

  9. Drink coffee until as late as 11 PM. Enjoy the sweet relief of having something you are addicted to flowing through your system. 
  10. Lie. Answer "cider" when everyone asks “WHAT ARE YOU DRINKING?” It is non-alcoholic apple cider, with soda water, and ice cubes in a wine glass. Not lying, it’s cider. 
  11. Quiet the voice that is screaming at you that you are torturing yourself by doing laps around your parent's house. Never stop walking in and out of rooms. 

  12. Get used to being bored. Like REALLY bored. 

  13. When relatives start to slur their words and ask you inappropriate questions, go to the play room and strike up a conversation with your five year old nephew about "butts."  
  14. Realize and accept that 95 percent of the holiday "magic" you used to feel in past holidays came from the drinks you put to your lips. Accept the fact that the magical-bubbly-sparkly feeling that had been there every Christmas was primarily from a bottle. The magic that made the snow prettier, made the people more charming, made the financial worries more palpable, and made Christmas Eve mass go by faster. 
Let yourself feel sad about this. 
  15. Start planning today how you will "get through" and make the next Christmas season more fun and rewarding for yourself. Now that you've made it through your first sober holiday season, the worst is over! It will be much easier next year. 

PS. What are you doing for New Year's Eve? 

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In all seriousness. Hey. If you are reading this, maybe you are also experiencing your very first sober holiday season. Maybe you were like me this late November, up late at night, lying in bed, Googling "how to get through your first sober holiday." I wanted to shed a little bit of light on my experience of my first sober Christmas season, because man on man, it was hard.  I've been sober for 9 months, and I thought I had built up enough of a defence in myself to carry me over the festive season, but it was totally tough. I started this essay and wanted to keep it serious, and then my husband read it and was rolling on the floor laughing. It made me realize that it all was a bit absurd, how I dealt with getting through the holiday sober.  It made me realize just how booze-soaked our world is on a spring day, but over the month of December, it is totally drenched.  I'm hoping that next year, I'll be still sober and better able to handle it all.  Next year, I will PLAN for a sober holiday, and not just be at the whim of what my friends and family members want to do. This year, I was on the run from alcohol at every turn. Next year, I'll have a plan in place. All the best to you on your sober journey. I know it's not easy. xox 

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