I recall how years ago I was contacted by the Diocese of St. Cloud. I was shocked that the Bishop's office would reach out to me - but indeed they did. I was asked by the voice on the phone to hold for the Bishop and then to my surprise the Bishop came to the phone.
I just returned from a Christmas cruise with a family group of nine people on Holland America’s new ship, the Niew Statendam. Our group of nine included my wife and myself, our two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren. We all get along well.
Staying sober during the holidays can be a challenge. Alcohol permeates so many traditions associated with this time-of-year. From baking recipes that call for alcohol, to festive holiday drinks that are spiked, to toasts at the end of year, all of these traditions seem to revolve around alcohol. However, now that your life no longer revolves around alcohol, perhaps its time to make some new holiday traditions.
This month, there are a lot of “service pieces” in magazines and newspapers with helpful advice about how to not be sad at the holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah. These well-meaning columns have suggestions on how to change our moods and move away from sadness. However, I have a theory that having feelings that match reality is mental health, not mental illness.
Slamming doors. Broken dishes. Arguments that the neighbors could hear clearly. Tears. Unkind words. And, conversely the resonant sound of hostile silence. The disease of alcoholism had wedged itself into the middle of our marriage.
Watching someone you love struggle with addiction or alcoholism is extremely painful. I often liken it to watching someone dig a deep hole.
“With dignity we will stand for ourselves, but not against our fellows.”
-“From Survival to Recovery”
Oh, the holidays! When we think of them, so many thoughts and images pop into our heads! Snow! Family! Food! Togetherness! Traditions, old and new! Excitement is in the air, and we start planning how and when our ideal holiday will come together. Unfortunately, for those who have a loved one struggling with alcoholism or addiction, an additional level of stress typically accompanies the holidays: worry that our imagined holiday will turn into our worst-case scenario.
The first time I went with my husband to his side of the family for the holidays, I struggled. Although my family was far from perfect, the holidays were something that I felt we did really well.
Even in my adult years, my mom always waited until everyone was asleep on Christmas Eve to put gifts under the tree. We would awake to magic. We would open stockings, and have a little breakfast, and then start a leisurely unwrapping of the presents. Gifts would be opened one at a time, and everyone would have an opportunity to see what everyone else was receiving. If a little one opened something that they wanted to play with for a while, we allowed for that. After all of the gifts were open, we would start cooking the big family meal. It smelled divine! We would eat, basking in the abundance, and then clean up, have dessert, and sit around the table for hours having conversation and playing games.