Wonderful Holiday Commotion
As a child I always enjoyed the holidays, especially Christmas. I grew up in a large family that didn't have any alcoholism. We always celebrated with lots of wonderful commotion-baking, presents, and happy family gatherings.
Being married to an alcoholic, who was a child of an alcoholic, brought a whole new set of commotions and changes into the holidays for me. Many times I heard my dear mother-in-law say holidays were the same as any other days and their family merely tolerated them. Her experience of being married to an active alcoholic definitely influenced her thoughts.
I decided I would not let my mother-in-law's sentiment become mine, even during my husband's active drinking years. I did as much as I could to control our holidays. I acted as if I enjoyed doing most of the gift shopping for our children and the extended family. Over the years I learned not to expect any gifts for myself because my spouse rarely bought me anything. I often volunteered to have the family gatherings at our home so I could be as festive as I wanted to be in spite of the moods that others brought with them. Even so, many times the drinking took over and I found myself disappointed at the end of the day, often crying after a terrible argument.
After my husband and I found our respective programs of Alcoholics Anonymous and
Al-Anon, the holidays changed again. We learned to discuss what we could do to bring the true spirit of the season into our home. Many times we still entertained his family but alcohol was not part of the menu. Sometimes people left early but we learned that was their choice. If we went to a family member's home, we decided ahead of time how to signal it was time to leave so we could avoid getting into any arguments later. We began to share shopping and decorating more than before, and now my spouse makes sure there is a gift for me without me needing to remind him. I still like to make plans, but I've learned not to plan the results.
This past Christmas I experienced a new situation regarding control. Our children are grown and have their own little ones so they are trying to set holiday traditions for their families. A couple of weeks before Christmas we discussed exactly when the family would gather in our home to share a meal and open gifts. I tried very hard to let our grown children make the plans because they have in-laws to spend time with as well.
Several times I mentioned that everything would work out as it should, because we had plenty of time to make a decision. I felt sometimes as though I was standing outside a circle of arguing adult children. I kept praying that my Higher Power would guide me to do and say the right thing. Actually, when I said nothing I knew it was guidance from my Higher Power. Plans for our sons-in-law changed and the family arrangements fell into place very nicely. We had a beautiful gathering and I was glad that I didn't have to control this holiday season. The best holiday gift I have ever received is the way Al-Anon operates in my life.
Carol V., Washington The Forum December, 2000
Reprinted with permission of The Forum
Al-Anon Family Groups Incorporated, Virginia Beach, VA
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