Feel the chill in the air? The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us.
The remnants of hollowed out Jack O’ Lanterns, being swapped out for pine comb wreaths.
Thanksgiving conjures up warm and fuzzy feelings for most. The thought of reuniting with family around the dinner table, football on the TV and toasting in the New Year with whatever spirits hit your glass.
Um wait. Spirits? Football? Family?
“How am I going to get through all of that without drinking or getting high?”
“I can’t remember the last time I went through Thanksgiving sober.”
“What do I tell everyone when they realize I’m not drinking?”
If you’re thinking any one of these things, you’re not alone. I was about 8 months sober when Thanksgiving pulled up on me like a steamroller.
I had amassed a good number of sober references over that time. I had been to concerts, restaurants and work functions and I didn’t drink or drug. It wasn’t always easy but with the help of my sober network, 12 step meetings and strong support from my wife, I was able to navigate each experience safely.
The key word is experience. To me, that’s what everything is all about in recovery. The thing about experience, is you can’t gain experience without going through an experience. It is possible to have an amazing sober holiday but consider planning ahead to make sure you’re walking into a safe environment.
Here are a few things that were suggested to me.
Consider letting the host know ahead of time that you won’t be drinking. Maybe even ask if there will be non-alcoholic beverages. If not, bring your own.
Ask if you can bring a sober companion. A plus one if you will. Perhaps someone from your sober network or maybe just a friend or significant other that will agree not to drink in support of you.
Pack some sweet treats in your jacket, for if or when, you experience cravings. There are numerous studies that show the link between consumption of alcohol and a desire for sweets. Sweets can help satisfy those cravings that sneak up on you from time to time.
Lastly, if you haven’t told many people about your recovery and you’d rather avoid what could be an awkward conversation over Thanksgiving dinner, come up with a reason for why you aren’t drinking. My personal favorite is, “I’m getting over a cold and I’m on anti-biotics.” It may be a small white lie, but it does the trick.
The spirit of Thanksgiving is a time to show gratitude for all that we have. It’s right there in the name. There’s nothing I’m more grateful for in this life than my own personal recovery.
Today I have an opportunity to reunite with family and old friends around the dinner table, watch football on the TV and even toast in the New Year with a full glass of my wife’s finest, non-alcoholic, sparkling cider.
Best of all, I get to do it sober.