This year I am refusing to buckle to the Spirit of Christmas Past.
In the past I would have thought only of what my five adult children expect or want from me. I would have made sure everyone had a present from everyone else. I would have purchased a gift for anyone not having money so everyone have been able to give and get a present. I would have cooked a huge dinner and numerous cookies, candies, two kinds of punch, and decorated the house inside and out.
I wanted my family to have the perfect Christmas and I would spend my money, time, and talent to make it happen.
With my recovery came a healthier way of celebrating Christmas, but it meant saying no to many of the traditions my children have come to expect. Disappointing them was almost more than I could bear in the past. In Al-Anon I had to process the difference between celebrating the holiday and being held prisoner by my own expectations. I used the slogan,” Keep it Simple” to guide me in transforming my holiday into something new and sustainable. I had to ask myself what I wanted and didn't want.
First thing to go was me cooking dinner. I do not like to cook and it takes a special person to stand in the kitchen all day to make everyone’s favorite dish. I knew that was a priority if I was to enjoy the day. I booked a reservation at a family friendly restaurant on Christmas day for my family.
Next on the list was the presents. I am not in the same financial place I was last year so presents for everyone is not feasible. I realize now that in the past I was forcing a solution and not allowing the celebration to happen naturally, but rather trying to control every detail to my liking.
The next big change was letting go of getting everyone together on Christmas and taking that beautiful family photo to send out on all my social media. Living with a husband suffering from alcoholism for many years had the strange affect of making me want to look good even while my life was falling apart. With Al-Anon I am able to let that need to appear picture perfect go. My two older sons are not speaking so I chose to invite everyone as always and let who ever wants to come come. The slogan of Keep It Simple allowed me the freedom to let my adult children figure things out without my getting involved.
One tradition I wanted to keep was making cookies for my children. Baking cookies is relaxing and one I enjoy so I chose to keep that one.
I also put up a Christmas tree. It was only 3 feet tall and only had to be plugged in, but that was the perfect amount of decorating I wanted to do this year.
While my Christmas choices may not make everyone happy in my family I have learned it is my job to ask myself what I want. It wouldn't make anyone happy to have me grouchy and resentful trying to maintain a family tradition I no longer wanted.
Traditions are great, but with the passing of time and healing we may find them more of an anchor than a blessing. For me knowing which ones to let go of and which ones to keep is the secret to having an authentic Merry Christmas.
May you all have a blessed and peaceful Christmas. What greater gift is there?
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Madeline Schloop: