The holidays can be a trying time for people. I am not an exception. Every year as Thanksgiving rolls around, I always get this feeling of anxiety, maybe dread, at having to show up to family gatherings. This year was no different. As November creeped in, I started to dread having to go get together with my family.
I know it sounds bad, but our family is not the kind who just calls each other for no good reason. We don’t have Sunday dinners. I’m not even sure we miss each other when we don’t see each other. I know that people grow up and they have their own lives. I think that is precisely why people shouldn’t be guilted or obligated to show up when they don’t necessarily want to.
This year it was really easy to not show up. We are in the midst of a global pandemic. There are only two of us in the house. Both of us work outside of the home and if one of us gets sick, there goes both of our income, because the other will have to quarantine too. So it was really easy to say no to family gatherings this year in order to stay safe.
As Thanksgiving rolled around, we stayed home and didn’t venture to any family gatherings. And I have to say, I’ve never been happier. My family has a tradition of overindulging in alcohol pretty much every single family get together. It might as well be a frat party. WOOHOOO!!!! But, we are all alcoholics, raised by an alcoholic, from alcoholics. So, we come by it honestly.
I, personally, have tried to steer clear of it. Sometimes I failed. But I have been completely sober for all of 2020. Not even a sip of wine. Not even kombucha. No alcohol at all. And my guy has been sober all year too. We actually just hit month 16 with no alcohol and it’s made a huge difference in our life and our relationship. So, I don’t think it came as a surprise to my family when I opted out of the celebrations this year due to COVID and drinking.
As Christmas rolled around, I declined the invitation to attend that get together as well. Mostly, if I do go somewhere, I want to be able to keep my mask on, I want to be able to preferably be outside, and I don’t want to be near anyone for more than approximately 8 minutes, especially, if I know they are not a fan of wearing masks or social distancing. Maybe I’m the asshole, I just don’t care anymore.
Thanksgiving turned out to be really good. And Christmas was even better. On Christmas Eve, we drove around and delivered the few presents for the few people we had. The weather turned cold and snowy. We woke up to a winter wonderland and made breakfast. We had to skip the biscuits because, as luck would have it, our oven broke and refused to turn on. So I cooked the cinnamon rolls on the waffle maker and made some eggs. After that, we opened presents from our parents and presents that we had gotten for each other that consisted of lots of household items that we needed like new toothbrushes, socks and even toilet paper. We promised to be practical and not go all out this year, and we succeeded. Then we sat around most of the day watching cheesy Christmas movies, laughing together, talking, and napping. It was exactly how I always wanted Christmas to be. Calm, low key, and sober.
It would have been nice to see my children, but the snow wouldn’t allow it and we ended up having a group facetime call. Something we have never done before, but I hope to do more of those.
And I have to say, I have never felt better after a holiday. I feel like every holiday, I have to play taxi and pick my mom up and take her to wherever the gathering is, which meant I could never drink because my mom already has a brain injury from a drinking and driving accident when I was 15, so I do not want to be the one who gets drunk and kills her or gives her a double brain injury. Talk about never living something down. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind picking her up. And I do live closest, but she also has 3 other children.
Plus, I don’t like to drink around my kids (especially not after that one time I got drunk and stole a drug dealer’s pitbull only to have to return it two days later so he wouldn’t kill me). I just want to know that when my kids tell a story about me during the holidays, it doesn’t start with, “well, my mom was drunk at Christmas like usual and….”
So, I just choose not to overdrink at family functions. And this year, I knew I (and my guy) would likely be the sober one in a group of drunk folks. If my family reads this, they may think I’m talking shit, but it’s not really shit talking if it’s true, so I guess they will get over it. And if they don’t, that’s a “them” problem. Because mostly, I’m tired of being stressed out about always having to show up and feeling guilty if I say no. To anything.
And as I’ve started doing more personal development and working on my health and wellness, I realize that my mental health matters just as much as the food I put into my body and just as much as the exercises I choose to do every day.
And if people can’t deal with me saying no, it’s going to be a long disappointing year for a whole lot of people, because 2021, is going to be a whole lot of surrounding myself with people who are on the same journey as me. It’s going to be saying no to the things that don’t help me be my highest self and I think sometimes, we are forced into family situations because of obligations. So I have relieved myself of any familial obligations for the next 369 days.
Maybe by 2022, I will change my mind, but 2021 is the year I take care of myself first for the first time in my life. If that’s selfish, then I will be selfish. But to me, it’s self love.