Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Christmas is a few days away. The trees are up and decorated with lights and colorful, shiny things. Stockings are hung. Holiday music is playing everywhere. Santa is sitting on his chair all day long in the mall getting pictures with the kids. Toys and gadgets and jewelry are hidden from loved ones all around the house, and parents are even more extra vigilant at keeping the kids out of their closet. Gifts are being bought and wrapped in shiny, colorful paper with snowflakes and reindeer. Houses and whole neighborhoods are collaborating to provide fantastic light shows with large lawn ornaments and stuffed Santas hanging from window sills and roof gutters. If it hasn’t already, A Christmas Story will soon be playing non-stop on TBS or TNT or whatever channel plays 24 hours of Christmas movies this time of year. ‘Tis the Season! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!
Yet, you may be asking yourself, how come the Christmas spirit seems to be lacking for me? Where is the wonder and anticipation of this glorious season I had as a youth? Why can’t I wish peace and goodwill toward all men? Rigorous honesty here: I understand. For some like me, the lack of “Christmas Spirit” can be attributed to a new climate. My family and I moved to the Houston area from Denver this past March, so that I could work here at Bay Area Recovery Center. The same inpatient treatment center where I recovered from alcohol addiction almost 4 years ago. I am used to frigid temperatures and drifts of snow during the Holidays; mittens, hot cocoa, scarves, Ice Melt, and snot-circles hanging from my beard. So experiencing the winter weather of Houston, Texas for the first time has me quite confused about what time of year it is. But if the lack of climate is the only reason for me not feeling the “Christmas Spirit” then I am truly blessed. Some people aren’t feeling the peace and goodwill this Holiday season because they or someone in their families are stuck in the downward spiral that is substance abuse addiction. Maybe Mom abuses Xanax, sons and daughters use prescription pills and opioids, and Dads need detox and treatment for Seasonal Alcohol Addiction. Whatever the substance, whatever the abuse, drugs and alcohol addiction can isolate already lonely individuals, and cause undue stress and heartache for families and loved ones of the user. I know. I have been on both sides of the equation. I have seen the worry and distress caused by my seasonal alcohol addiction increase in my family during the Christmas season. I have sapped all the joy of the holidays with the consequences of my use. I have ruined the last Christmas some of my family have had on Earth. I have been there. I have done that.
But I don’t have to do that anymore. My family doesn’t have to feel that way anymore. Instead of sucking out the Christmas Spirit of those around me, I get to add to, I get to Be the Peace and Goodwill to all men. I get to make connections with people and give them, and their families, hope for the Holidays. What I’ve learned here at Bay Area Recovery Center, what our counselors teach our clients, and what the whole 12 Step recovery community lives to share is simple: it’s not “Tis the Season”, it’s “Tis the Here-and-Now”. The values of the Christmas Holidays are the principles we should live by every day, all day, no matter the month or season. Hope is welcome any time of the year. Brotherly Love and Service are needed every day. Faith, Courage, and Honesty can take an isolated individual and gather them up into relationships and family. We do not need a season, a vague, predetermined amount of time, to love and help our fellow man. We just need willingness. ‘Tis not the Season! ‘Tis the Here-and-Now!
From our family to yours,
May God bless and keep you,