Laugh all you want at the above caption, but it rings true for many people in or out of recovery circles. Seeing this at a church service I recently attended brought up some reminders of how recovery has helped me to put a new spin on my holidays and who I spend them with.
I grew up in a household where everyone was either an addict of some kind, or mentally ill. I learned to give up ANY expectations of it being a fun time with cherished memories, and eventually learned to strongly dislike Christmas altogether.
Unfortunately, my folks never made plans for concerts, pageants, or when they would decorate. By the time I was a teen, I did my best to “help” the holiday be better in our home, and was the one to plan events and decorate. Because I was “childish” at planning events, Christmas still was a letdown for me. When I became an adult, I swore I was going to do it differently.
Well, I did make a big deal out of Christmas in my 20’s and early 30’s. It was fun to once again see the holiday through the eyes of my children. However, I eventually started to dislike it again. In trying so hard to make the holiday different than the disappointment of my childhood, I went the other extreme and tried to make it too perfect. (I also got divorced in my mid-thirties and then ended up spending Christmas with friends or extended family.) I had lost most of my desire to “make” the holiday happen.
I had never really stopped to ponder why I put up a tree and bought presents. I wondered whether I truly wanted to keep observing Christmas at all. Today, I still can be ambivalent and feel as if I never want to celebrate the holiday again.
Now that I’ve been in Christ-centered recovery, I have a new motivation. I am now learning that it’s best for me to live from “the inside out.” What I mean is, if I do things to celebrate Christmas, I will only do them if my heart is really in the activity, or, it has some kind of special meaning for me. I now can see how so much of my aversion to the holiday had its roots in me doing things out of compulsion and doing activities which included much excess eating, drinking and spending. There were too many activities that were way too superficial for me.
I also came to believe that God sending His son as a little baby as a light shining in the darkness was a great alternative event to celebrate. We give holidays to great presidents; why not give the biggest holiday to the One who is the King of Kings?
I finally concluded that for me, Christmas needed to continue. I would be careful to celebrate, but in moderation. I have basically learned to let Christ be Lord of how I spend my Christmases (since He is Lord of every other part of my life). I have surrendered the season to Him. If I’m struggling with painful memories from the past, I now have a new recovery “family” I can call on to listen to me and pray with me. I also choose to spend part of my Christmas with these wonderful authentic people.
I learned once again, in Celebrate Recovery, that Christ came into the world to save everyone (myself included) from the brokenness caused by sin in the world. Because everyone is broken (some way more than others), Jesus came so we all could be born again into a NEW family where His healing can take place. HE has let me start over as a new creation because my first family never would be able to give me what I needed in order to mend my broken heart. Broken hearts happen when relationships become broken.
The miracle of God becoming man and getting involved in all our messes completely amazes me. He can bring good out of them if we will only let go enough to let Him. I pray we will.
May your holidays be spent making pleasant memories with family (new or old). Wherever you are or whoever you are with, may it feel like you are ‘home’ for the holidays.
Contributed by a leader at Celebrate Recovery on the Plateau.