I grew up in a house with too many people and not enough money, privacy, or bathrooms. Every holiday season, my mother would bake quadruple batches of at least a dozen different Christmas cookies, along with gift shopping and wrapping for eight kids. I have no idea how my parents absorbed the extra expense, much less found the time to get everything done they needed to to keep the fantasy of Santa Claus alive for us. Needless to say, it was an extremely stressful time of year – for everyone. When the stress got to be too much for her – for example, when minor skirmishes would erupt between us kids any time between the end of November and the beginning of January, it wasn’t uncommon for my mother to exasperatedly yell, “Merry Christmas, you goddamn brats!” My sisters and I have joked about this through the years but we all struggle with falling prey to holiday-induced bitchiness. As a result, the two sisters with whom I am particularly close and I deliberately refuse to take on unnecessary stress as regards Christmas dinner. Everyone who comes usually brings an appetizer and/or a dessert, a buffet table is laid, and everyone grazes and visits and RELAXES.
But this is my first holiday season alcohol free, and we host Thanksgiving dinner. We’ll have about 15 people here including two babies, a preschooler, a preteen, teenager, and bunch of adults. Our house isn’t very big. Everyone seems to congregate in the kitchen, which is extremely stressful for me, trying to get dinner ready. And I won’t have my old companion, Chardonnay, to soften the edges for me. I’ve been doing my research on the sober blogs to see how everyone else handles holiday-induced stress. I know to have my special drink (cherry pomegranate seltzer with cherry pomegranate Dasani drops added) in stock. I know to make sure I’m well rested and continue to exercise. My husband is wonderful – he and I work together as a team when we host big events like this. I told him last night I may need to ‘escape’ into our bedroom or the bathroom to take a few breaths or a whiff of my favorite soothing hand cream. Just to regroup, center myself, and de-stress. His response? “My job is to make sure YOU’RE ok.” Have I told you how much I love this man lately? He rocks my world.
This year, avoiding the “Merry Christmas you goddamn brats” is going to be a bit of a challenge without booze. What helps YOU during this time of year?