Sobriety isn’t always rainbows and pink clouds. At times, it can be incredibly difficult, for some of us those problematic times intertwine with the holiday season. In our society, drinking is a part of the culture and especially around the holiday’s people drink more and alcohol is often a part of holiday traditions. How many times have you sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with a glass of wine or some other kind of celebratory drink? What about going out on the town drinking with friends the night before Thanksgiving? Thanksgiving Eve has become one of the most popular drinking holidays of the year.
If you feel left out because you’re sober this Thanksgiving, don’t. Being sober on Thanksgiving is better in every way and here are five reasons why.
1. Contribute to dinner
I never contributed anything to Thanksgiving when I was drinking. You’d be lucky if I showed up on time, let alone help out or take part in it. Since getting sober I love being able to hold myself responsible, help my parents and other family members get dinner going, help them cook and clean up. I get more out of Thanksgiving because I know I am actually contributing now to one of my family’s traditions and I feel great about being able to enjoy this time with them. It feels good to be able to give my time and attention to my family because I was never able to do that during past Thanksgivings before I got sober.
2. Create satisfying memories
The best part about being sober on any holiday is that you get to create new memories. These new memories don’t necessarily replace the old, but it’s a way to start fresh and truly live out your recovery in real time. Changed behavior is the best way to make amends to your loved ones and creating new memories on Thanksgiving is a great way to do so. There’s no other way to do this than to stay sober, show up for your loved ones and to holidays like Thanksgiving.
3. Get more work done, or relax more
My work always suffered when I was drinking. I either worked too much or not enough. I certainly didn’t work efficiently and when the holidays rolled around I either took more time off of work to incorporate drinking into my schedule, or called out. Now that I am sober I can use the holidays to schedule more work in an appropriate way, or I can use those extra days as time to plan self-care and relax more. Planning work makes more sense now and I don’t need additional days off because I’m not hungover or suffering from negative drinking consequences. I enjoy each moment for all that it’s worth because drinking doesn’t get in the way.
4. No Thanksgiving hangover
Thanksgiving Eve has become one of, if not the most popular, drinking holiday in the U.S. Bars and clubs have elaborate drink specials, people meet up with their high school friends and have reunions, and law enforcement are out on the streets with DUI checkpoints. There were many years when I didn’t know what a Thanksgiving holiday felt like without a hangover. I would spend all day laying on the couch or sleeping half the day in order to feel better. I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the food because I would feel sick, and I would even spend time planning to go out again on Thanksgiving night. I remember one Thanksgiving in particular when my cousins and family were in town from Vermont and I ignored them most of the day because I wanted to plan another night out on the town with my friends.
5. Another day that is not ruled by alcohol
I love that Thanksgiving is no longer another day in my life that is ruled by alcohol, like it once was. No matter how much I denied it, the holidays were controlled by my alcohol use. I didn’t enjoy being with my family because I was always thinking about when I could leave to go get drunk and party with my friends. I didn’t care that family was traveling from all over the U.S. to visit me or that my mom had been slaving over a hot stove all day to prepare a wonderful meal for all of us. Today I get to be in the present moment on Thanksgiving. I get to help, take in my surroundings using all 5 of my unaltered senses, I get to relax, and work efficiently.
Sober Thanksgiving puts things into perspective. I get to soak up genuine gratitude for the season and my family. Thinking about what I’m going to cook and how I’ll spend the time with my family is superior to planning a night out drinking, nursing a hangover and avoiding DUI checkpoints. I am free to choose how I want to spend the holidays and how I spend my time, that is the freedom of sobriety.
About the Author
Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterParty Magazine. She is currently writing a memoir.