This week has been mega busy and full of fun. I’ve been to a concert, an awards show, alpaca walking, to the theatre and for a Sunday lunch.
The lead up to Christmas time is always a busy one, there’s work things, friend things, family things, all usually involving boozy things.
It can be a tough time of year for addicts, whether still in addiction, or trying to recover, constantly surrounded by temptation, people under the influence and media images that keep reinforcing the message that festive fun and drink go hand in hand.
A few years ago my whole December would revolve around drinking, I would need to plan my activities around when I would be hungover (this is before I started morning drinking to cut out the hangovers), because god forbid I would go to an event or meet up with friends and not have a vino or 10.
I vividly remember one Christmas, in my mid twenties, I had had 14 heavy nights (specific number right?) in a row, drinking and drugging, when it came to my actual work Xmas do, a nice classy affair, I was on my last legs. I couldn’t even pour myself a drink I was shaking so much – I had to get my Director to pour it for me so I didn’t spill a drop of the precious champs and waste it. I couldn’t touch my lunch which the company paid for. Instead of drinking water and going home after the lunch like my body was screaming for me to, I decided to do the very alcoholic thing of forcing more and more wine down me and doing a couple of pills at midday to see me through the night.
I couldn’t leave my bedroom for 2 days after that and genuinely thought I was going to die. What a waste. I’ve done a lot worse since that Christmas a decade ago, but for some reason it always stands out to me – I think that’s when I realised I had an issue.
This year will be different, I won’t be glugging mulled wine or toasting with champagne, but I will be enjoying time with my family and friends and having festive fun like everyone else, just without the alcohol. The media and advertising has drummed it into us that we need booze to have a good time, especially around Christmas and New Year. A Bailey’s is festive, mulled wine is a must and it’s OK to drink champs at 8am on Christmas day.
But I have news.
You don’t have to drink to enjoy Christmas!
Not if you don’t want to.
If you are trying to avoid the booze this year or even want some ideas of things to do minus glug, don’t panic. There’s a whole load of stuff you can enjoy without being pissed up:
- Ice skating – it’s so pretty and always fun, especially if you’re rubbish at it. It’s way better to fall and really go for yours best ‘Torvill and Dean’, then pay a tenner to hang on to the edge of the ice rink for 30 mins freezing your nips off
- Hot chocolates instead of mulled wine, you can’t put marshmallows in mulled wine – well you could but it would be gross
- Go and see a panto, go to the theatre, sing along, be silly; re-live your childhood
- Light shows like Christmas at Kew or even just going to London to see the Christmas lights can really get the festive feels going
- Xmas walks, there’s nothing more lovely than festive walks with your loved ones, or alone (you can sing carols if you want some alone time – this guarantees other walkers to stay away)
- Bake cookies – share them with people you love (unless they’re gross, then maybe just feed them to the dog-dogs are always grateful)
- Sober parties and raves- if you’re feeling brave enough to boogie sober there’s so many safe places to do it! Check out Morning Gloryville’s New Years rave (you know how much I rave about it -get it? Rave about it…chuckle)
- Take the money you’ve saved on drinks and put it towards your festive pampering, festive nails, make – up, jumpers, be as sparkly/red/tinsely as you damn well want.
If you are going to parties where there will be booze and you feel a bit anxious about it, here’s a few tips that may help you get over the hurdle, tips that someone gave me a few Christmases ago;
- Don’t rely on anyone else to get you home, either drive yourself and don’t promise lifts or make sure you have a taxi number safe if you aren’t braving public transport
- Be honest early on in the party if you can, tell the host or 1 person you don’t drink, you’ll be surprised at how much support you will get throughout the night. But if you aren’t quite ready for the you could always say your are on antibiotics to avoid questions
- Tell a friend who knows your situation where you will be going and ask if you can call them if things get tough – this helped me through my early days
- Carry sweets with you! Pop a sweetie if you feel the need to drink, the sugar can help it pass
- Keep hold of your glass so it doesn’t get topped up with something boozy or you don’t take a sip from the wrong one ( I did that for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it really shook me up)
- You do not have to stay anywhere you aren’t having fun! Remember to look after number 1, if you do not want to be somewhere then leave. There’s no shame in a good night in.
But whatever you are doing, remember, Christmas is a time for love and laughter, this is what everyone wants. No one will be judging you for not drinking, not if it makes you happy, and if they do then tell them to shove some holly up their back-side and continue to do your sober thing.