The season is almost upon us, and if you are alone this Christmas you probably just want to run and hide until it’s January.I know exactly how you feel. Christmas (or the Holiday Season as it’s referred to in America) asserts itself as a time of joy and togetherness, when in reality it is an enormous struggle for a lot of people. With very little joy and no one to be ‘together’ with. I’ve often said it is loneliness that kills alcoholics more than anything else. I know it almost killed me.
But somehow I was always saved from having to spend Christmas alone. By sheer luck, I always managed to have angels in my life who would invite me over for Christmas and always make me feel included and welcomed. The gratitude I have for these families knows no bounds.* Despite myself, each year, I wound up actually enjoying the day a lot more than I ever anticipated, and it was always due to those lovely folks who invited me in.
Now I have a family of my own, a house that is clean, comfortable and warm, and enough money to indulge my family in festive treats – I am able to pay this kindness forward.
We always invite people over who perhaps wouldn’t have somewhere to go over Christmas. Sometimes they are newly sober or going through a divorce or just an international student with nowhere to go. Whatever the reason, we find all these different people bring something special into our lives and we wouldn’t want to spend Christmas without them.
I would urge you to try it. If you are in the incredibly fortunate position of being surrounded by people you love, have a look around you at the people you know. I guarantee that if you look hard enough you will see someone who is quietly dreading Christmas day and would be incredibly grateful to be included. People in very early recovery often struggle a lot with Christmas. It can be a very vulnerable time of year for them because there is alcohol everywhere and often they have estranged their own families and not had a chance to make amends yet. Having a safe and loving place to go to would be an enormous relief to them. Or maybe you know someone who is lonely and isolated, loneliness afflicts everyone at some point, not just alcoholics. The gifts of companionship, hospitality, and connection are worth so much more to them than anything that can be bought in a store.
Then in exchange, like me, they may one day get the opportunity to pay it forward to someone else who is struggling.
And there will be one less person lonely this Christmas.
*Thank you to the Sokoloff and Broyden families – including me in your Christmas meant more to me than you will ever know.