When I stopped drinking, I thought the holidays were over for me.
I know Thanksgiving and Christmas have other deeper meanings — something about gratitude and peace on earth — but for me, a woman whose nightly glass of wine was more like a trough, the holidays meant open bars and an excuse for abandon. Those were good times. Except when those were horrible times that required apology emails, but that’s another story.
It was three years ago when I quit, and I’ve never regretted it. But, the holidays felt so threatening to me. How would I endure all this forced merriment without the comfort of a cocktail? How would I connect to strangers without a beer in my hand? Would people judge me for not drinking?
Actually, people rarely noticed, because a club soda looks an awful lot like a vodka tonic. And I connected to people the same way I always had. By talking to them and listening, which I did a lot more of when I wasn’t drinking, by the way.
The holidays aren’t really about indulgence. Just like Thanksgiving isn’t about gluttony and Christmas isn’t about consumerism. The holidays are about appreciating what we have. What I have is presence of mind, a calm life and exactly zero emails that begin, “I’m sorry I broke your lamp.”
When I walk into a holiday party now, and I’m a little nervous and I don’t know what to say, it makes me no different than everyone else who walks into that room. It connects me to my fellow man, which I’m pretty sur, is one of the meanings of the holidays, too.