Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday expectations

At the AA meeting I went to Monday, the usual crowd of 35-40 women was done to 12. Not surprising with all the things there are to do at the holidays: decorating, gift-buying-wrapping-mailing-delivering, special foods to shop for and cook, parties, concerts, recitals, relatives visiting. A lot of crazy-making behaviors. Not so good for those of us who are addicted to expectations and our need to fill them.

When I was newly sober, there was a lot of frank talk about the holidays at meetings. How they were a time of excess: excess drinking, eating, spending--even for non-addicts. How it was so easy for us addicts to fall into that excess since we were by nature excessive consumers. (It's not surprising that more people go into recovery after the holidays than any other time of year.)

How there was a kind of frenzy that took over the culture, a frenzy fueled by the desire to achieve some mythical joy amd fulfillment through spending and consuming. Seduced by the romance of a past that never existed, we think we can create or re-create a happy childhood by doing more and more.

Christmas was, the old-timers said, an excellent time to keep it simple, to realize that Christmas was just another 24 hours, that not drinking (or eating sugar) is the real priority, along with kindness and gentleness to self and others.

Over these years of sobriety, my family's Christmas rituals and consumption have simplified considerably. We buy less, give less to each other and more to charity, eat less, drink not at all. In a way the holidays seem less special, less extraordinary because we don't have big expectations. In another way, they are much sweeter.

Have a wonderful holiday! Jill 

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